I was going to call this presentation “The Death of the Book”, but as I thought about it, it seemed a little bit more appropriate to call it the “Rebirth of the Book.” Just out of curiosity, how many people have some kind of ebook reader? Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPod Touch? I didn’t think a lot about eBooks when my first book came out three years ago—my opinion has changed a lot over the years. But before I get too far ahead of myself, I’m going to talk a little bit about my journey into publishing.
One of the reasons I like giving book talks at library conferences is because that is the one place I can put that question on a screen, and it doesn’t really sound to crazy! I bet everyone person in this room has had some experience with someone in the library doing something inappropriate. Since this is technically lunch, I’m not going to answer that question, but it is where my first book, “Quiet, Please” opens, so it seems like a good place to start—but if you do want to know the answer, then read the book
So I guess you can say this is how I used to view libraries. Books. It didn’t take very long to see that there was more to a library than books—there are people, of course! And not just people—an interesting group of people! Old people; eccentric people; angry people; computer people; teen people; and, most importantly, kids.
I also learned something else about libraries…they’re almost always next to bus stops. I am a big fan of public transportation; I use it whenever possible. But I’m sure most of you know that buses tend to make it possible for a certain kind of patron to visit the library: the crazy patron. I LOVE THE CRAZY PATRON! Whenever I think about this patron, I think about the patron who slept on the bathroom floor.
Another patron I learned to…accept? Was teens. I’ve never been a fan of them, but at the same time, I think they are one of the most overlooked groups in the library. STORY ABOUT A TEEN.Another thing I started noticing about teens was how they read. Teens still read, but more and more what I’m seeing is they aren’t reading books. They are reading on cell phones; on videos games; on iPod’s. Now something else I learned over the years is there A LOT of books for girls. And that’s great…unless your not a girl. I started having a hard time finding books for older teens, who couldn’t really relate to YA books. They wanted books that in some ways were more like video games then literature. There are a few great YA authors out there for these teens—but not a lot. So I figured, why not write a book these teens?
And that’s how “The N00b Warriors” game about. I figured it would be an easy sell. It has VIOLENCE! ROMANCE! ACTION! DRAMA! I had everything! I even had scenes that will make you never look at Mickey Mouse the same way ever again! I had an agent with the right contacts. Off the book went, and I waited for the calls to come. And waited. And waited more. Then they came. The younger editors loved it—but they couldn’t convince there senior editors to love it also. In the end it was to violent, and more importantly, boys don’t read! BUT THEY DO!
Nobody loves me If you want to find the greatest books ever wrote, then head on over to the graveyard, because the sad fact is most people write their great American novel, but never find the means to publish it. I thought about this and decided two things. One, teens don’t have any money; two, I’d rather be read, then not read.
So I put the book EVERYWHERE that teens read, and took it a step further…I made it free. In less than six months over 30,000 people have downloaded it.
Giving the book away, also has opened the door to other things; there are currently two teens developing graphic novels—one a teen from Tokyo making a manga version, and one from Germany making a traditional version.
In the process of learning about eBooks, I saw there really was potential to make money from it. As it happened, about this same time the library I work at began cutting hours. I went from working 30 to 40 hours a week, to working 5 to 10 hours a week. I love that 1,000s of kids are reading my book, but that doesn’t exactly put food on the table. So with another librarian, I started a electronic publishing house called Minute Help Press. We both looked at how people were reading, and said, a lot of people would benefit from shorter books—books where you can learn different topics on that commute to work…books that you can read in about an hour. We also learned that people don’t want to pay a lot for books, so almost all of ours are priced .99 to 2.99. To date, we’ve sold around 40,000 books. It’s not exactly enough to quit our day jobs, but it’s not bad for a publishing house that currently operates in a Star Bucks.
So how exactly did we get to selling 40k books in a matter of months with hardly no promotion? It really started back at the library. Working in the library has thought me how people find books. When my first book came out, I remember searching on Amazon for it and having a hard time finding it—the keywords were all wrong, and they didn’t even have it in right subjects,. Instead of putting it in memoirs or another area that people are actually interested in, they put it in library professional development—not exactly the top section at your local Barnes and Noble. This is something almost every publisher is doing wrong—they don’t take the time to think about how people want to find books. They publish a book on the the iMac, for example, but don’t put keywords that include things like what operating system it is or even the companies name “Apple”—any librarian will tell you there are about a thousand different ways a person might ask for a book on birds; knowing how people search for books has helped us quickly get to the top page when people search for books on various topics.
So it sounds like I think this is the library of the future. I don’t. I think this is the library of the future. eBooks don’t kill books. eBooks don’t kill libraries. What do eBooks do? They make libraries have to think of new ways to stay relevant in a digital age. If librarians remember that they are the gateway to knowledge, not books, then they’ll be just fine.
Publishing in a Digital Age
The Rebirth of the Book<br />The Death of Book<br />
What Do You Do If you Catch Someone Masturbating?<br />