For those who celebrated Christmas, a belated happy Christmas – I hope you had a wonderful day with your loved ones. For those who don’t, I hope you took full advantage of the quiet over the holiday period and had a relaxing break!
I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block (blogger’s block?) about this post, partly spurred by the fact that I’ve started seeing the first of the Best of 2012 posts appear, and I’m nowhere near collating my thoughts about books read this year. As a result, I’ve started to panic slightly about being behind in terms of tracking my 2012 reads – you may have seen a flurry of my Goodreads reviews appear for books read in July this year (and yes, I’ll cross-post them here at some point).
So this is not my 2012 wrap-up post – that will come sometime during the next couple of weeks. Instead, here are my thoughts about a few (randomly selected) trends I’ve seen in 2012:
Crowdfunding and Kickstarter: Kickstarter is growing in popularity, and in the literary world, authors are looking to use crowd-funding to support their latest ventures. Tobias Bucknell posted his thoughts about the Kickstarter campaign he ran for his latest novel – a bit on the long side but interesting, especially in terms of what worked well and what he would have done differently.
I’ve only participated in one Kickstarter to date, which was sourcing funds to publish a shared-world fantasy anthology. I can’t remember who/what brought it to my attention now, but I thought the editor had a strong line-up of authors and so tossed in $5 in return for a copy of the ebook when it was ready. It was a positive experience – I was actually surprised when the ebook came out three months later in July (sooner than I expected for some reason) and I thought the anthology was good value for money. IIRC, the ebook ended up on sale on Amazon for slightly cheaper than $5, but I didn’t mind – $5 was a fair price IMO.
I’ve not supported any other Kickstarters, but that’s due to not having the time to wade through the numerous campaigns out there (and the ones I have seen haven’t appealed to me enough). I’d definitely participate in another one if I liked the concept enough. Having said that, I’ve read cautionary tales about various Kickstarter campaigns that have been funded without providing a return, so I would say caveat emptor – you’ve to do your own research on the reliability of the person and/or viability of the proposal, and go in with the view that you may never get anything back for your investment. Also, unless I’m a massive fan of the author, I’d probably never go beyond paying for an ebook copy of their latest project, but it’s fascinating seeing what rewards are proposed at the higher funding levels.
Inclusion of new short stories in mass market paperback releases: A pet bug-bear of mine, and one that I’ve seen happening more and more over 2012. Yes, I get that publishers want to attract new readers when re-releasing in a different format, and offering bonus short stories appear to be an option. But I’m annoyed because it feels as though the readers who have paid for the hardcover release (i.e. the hardcore fans) are being penalised and having to shell out additional cash if they want to read a new short story. And let’s face it, if you’ve bought the hardcover, you probably want to read additional stories in the same world.
I’m not opposed to bonus material in general – go ahead and include excerpts from the next book, reading guides, maps, character biographies etc. But not exclusive short stories that are then released separately for sale as e-shorts.
My ideal solution? Apart from not doing it in the first place, declare upfront that the MMP release will have bonus material. And let me make the decision to purchase a hardcover edition based on that knowledge. Umm… I know. Not going to happen, is it? My one-woman protest will probably be not to buy the hardcover in the first place for the serial offenders and wait until the paperback.
Ebooks taking off in a BIG way: 2012 is the year when Kindles became commonplace on the Tube. I remember when I got my first ereader (Sony Reader back in 2008), it was a rarity to see another ereader in public. Now, every other person on my commute in to work appears to have a Kindle or iPad.
What this also means is that a host of self-published authors are suddenly able to access this large reader community directly, instead of having to go through traditional publishing channels. I’m not going to talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing – there are numerous articles out there that debate this topic far more knowledgeably that I can. But for me as a reader, what this means is that I can discover new authors that I would never have had otherwise – Andrea K Höst and Tammara Webber are just two fantastic authors that I would have never have read if it wasn’t for ebooks and self-publishing. Yes, there’s a lot of flotsam out there in the self-published ocean of books, but I keep an open mind on self-published novels because of them.
So, your thoughts on the above or any other trends that have struck you in 2012?