Availability of books on Kindle

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Availability of books on Kindle

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jul 6, 2012, 4:41pm

I have a question and maybe someone out there who knows more about publishing than I do can help me. I frequently look up reissued or backlist-type books which are still in print and yet aren't available on Kindle. Two recent examples are The Far Distant Oxus and the sequels to Swallows and Amazons. These are books that are never going to sell well but do have a loyal following. Wouldn't making them available as an e-book as well increase the publisher's sales? I notice that most of the publishers in these cases are small or mid-sized. Is it that they're not yet accustomed to e-books, or is it the pricing deal that Amazon forces on publishers? Another example is Virago and some of their subsidary imprints. They don't seem to do e-books at all. It's a shame because I really like their authors but I don't have space in my house to buy many physical books any more.

jul 6, 2012, 5:04pm

Virago does have some eBooks available on Kindle, at least several that I see from a search on Elizabeth Taylor. I suspect it's just the more recent ones, though, or ones that are particularly popular.

Creating an eBook isn't just a case of running a treeware text through OCR (optical character recognition) software and then selling the result. OCR produces a lot of glitches, so the electronic file has to be very carefully proofread and edited. Even beyond that is the issue of getting good digital formatting that includes a table of contents and the like.

Even when a book is already available in digitized format (for example, a Word file that the author has submitted to the publisher), it still won't necessarily be good enough in raw format. Also, a lot of proofing and editing occurs between the first submission of a Word file and its final publication in treeware form, and as I understand it, many of these editorial changes aren't necessarily incorporated into the original digital file (though someone more informed on publishing than I am might want to address this).

eBook publication requires some definite effort if the publisher's going to get a quality product into the Kindle Store (or Nook, or wherever). Unless there's a real market out there, it may not be worthwhile economically, and reputable publishers don't want to put out a slapdash job that will damage their overall reputations.

But anyway, as I've noted above from the Elizabeth Taylor example, there are at least some Virago eBooks available. Maybe Elizabeth Taylor is a special case, and Virago's put the extra effort into her for her centennial, but at least they're getting started.

jul 6, 2012, 10:34pm

Are you talking about Virago Modern Classics?

Eventually they will all be converted, I believe, but it will take time.

jul 9, 2012, 11:54am

Thanks for the replies. I knew about the Elizabeth Taylors, but there are a lot of Viragos not available and I guess I'm just a little impatient. Like I said, I don't know much about the technical or business aspect of publishing, I just look at it from a reader's point of view. It just seemed to me that if you already had the book on your list, making it available as an ebook would be fairly easy.

jul 9, 2012, 1:08pm

I would have thought so too, but from the number of kindle books I have had with punctuation, spelling and formatting errors, I have come to believe that it is not so simple. Probably the most expensive part for the publisher is proofreading.

aug 10, 2012, 12:50am

This is the list of all the titles in the Swallows and Amazon series written by Aurthur Ransome including their dates of publication as published at the time of Arthur Ransome's death (1967). He did leave one unfinished title, Coots in the North which was published much later in it's unfinished form.

Swallows and Amazons (published 1930)
Swallowdale (1931)
Peter Duck (1932)
Winter Holiday (1933)
Coot Club (1934)
Pigeon Post (1936)
We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea (1937)
Secret Water (1939)
The Big Six (1940)
Missee Lee (1941)
The Picts And The Martyrs: or Not Welcome At All (1943)
Great Northern? (1947)

All of these titles are available as Kindle editions from Amazon.com.

sep 10, 2012, 2:33pm

Might want to check out other ebook dealers too. Sometimes publishers will allow ebooks to be on one site and not another. Had that with a few books that I bought from Barnes & Noble then used Calibre to turn into Epub so I could read it on my desktop and Kindle.

Doesn't happen often but you never know.

sep 10, 2012, 2:56pm

8 - thanks. I will check Amazon again, but I thought when I originally looked that only S & A was available as an e-book.

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