Since I’ve started publishing my stories I’ve noticed a trend with my non-writing friends. They vary in degrees of support and interest, but when it comes to the actual method of publication the question is usually the same: “Could I buy this in a bookstore?” The question doesn’t insult me, and I’m flattered they might want to buy my story! But it reflects a certain perspective, which is the reader/consumer perspective. Despite Amazon and the apparent rise of the popularity of ebooks, my non-writing friends usually just want to know if they can walk into Chapters or Borders and pick up my story from the shelf.
A little while ago I was chatting with a friend at work who is also a writer. I mentioned a recent publication and he asked me, “Is it a paying market?” I thought, Now that is a writer’s question. I can’t imagine another writer asking me if they could find my story on the shelves in a bookstore. Is it a paying market? reflects the writer/producer perspective: First of all as a way to congratulate me if I managed to make a bit of money for my work, and also for future reference, in case he also wants to submit to the publisher.
I once told a non-writing friend about a publication and he asked if he could buy a copy from me. I said he could, sure, but he could also buy it from Amazon if he liked. His face lit up: Really, Amazon? I believe this demonstrates that the reader/consumer is looking for the most familiar method of getting access to a story. If they usually browse bookstores, they want the book there. If they usually buy from Amazon, then Amazon is the indicator of success.
And ebooks? Unfortunately, I have not yet had anyone react with enthusiasm to an ebook. Apparently this is still the unknown frontier of publication, no matter how many Kindles I see on the tube.