Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Writing Week: Issue 38, year 4

Hi all,

Even though appointments and gardening ate into my writing time last week, I still managed to do a bit every day. I continued re-writing a short story and started work on my next article for Divine magazine on Wangaratta’s Men’s Shed.

I had been putting off contacting the Men’s Shed because I wasn’t sure whether it would work as a story for Divine. In particular, I was concerned whether people with disabilities were welcome at the shed.

I initially procrastinated by deciding I needed to get a new camera for pictures for the article. The software for my two second-hand cameras did not seem to be working anymore. Once I purchased a new camera, I then used the excuse of not knowing exactly where the shed was.

Even though it was magpie swooping season, I planned to walk out to the shed on father’s day, visiting my father’s grave on the way. But it rained. That put contacting the Men’s Shed off for another week as I really could not be bothered going on a long walk on Monday to Saturday. I already swam or did weights and exercises on those days.

The next Sunday it still looked like rain, but I managed to walk out to the Shed with only a bit of drizzle at one stage. The shed is situated at the Wangaratta sale yards and it took me an hour to get there

Fortunately no one was at the shed, probably all at church or hungover, so I took some rather uninspiring photos of the shed and walked home. I was only swooped by one magpie, just after I turned to return home, but the weather had given me an excuse to carry an umbrella to ward it off.

Knowing that I could walk there, my procrastination finally came to an end and I rang and talked to the president of the Men’s Shed last Wednesday. I arranged to attend their “meeting” that day. It was a nice sunny day as I took a bit of a short cut and followed the railway line out to the shed. Along the way, I came across one of the now infamous mud holes under the railway line.

When I got to the shed, they told me about all the work they do for people with disabilities – repairing bikes, running camps, making wheelchairs. And then I saw a guide dog that belonged to the vision impaired co-ordinator of the shed.

The shed had easy access and a toilet for people with disabilities. Some of the members had even heard about Divine magazine. Needless to say, the Wangaratta Men’s Shed was perfect for an article.

I initially thought I had too much material to fit into a 500 word article, but I easily managed to include all the information in the first draft. Now I just have to jazz up the writing a bit.

Price of Ebooks to Rise?

I think it might be wishful thinking, but the CEO of the Australian Publishing Association, Maree McCaskill, reckons the price of ebooks will increase. In an article in the Sunday Age (28/8/2011) she says:

“Companies like Amazon are designed to exact the best deal for themselves. Australian publishers have to bargain pretty hard to get the best deal for their authors and publishers to make money on it. I predict prices will go up because they use it as a loss leader to establish a market and it’s not sustainable.”

I think she is referring to publishers when she says it is not sustainable, because I am sure Amazon would make a profit even if all the Kindle ebooks were selling for 99 cents. It is also clear that she is thinking about authors with publishers selling their ebooks for $2 -$3, not authors without publishers (those who self-publish, and those with traditional publishers who keep or regain their ebook rights).

Readings and Bookish ebooks

The Age article mentioned how independent retailers like Readings were fighting back by selling ebooks online. I had a second look at Readings just to see the price they were selling their ebooks, most were more than $9.99. Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was a typical $15.99, Amazon had it for their Kindle at $7.99. Embassytown by China Mieville was $21.99 at Readings, it is not available at Amazon and $20.49 at the Book Depository. Sabriel by Garth Nix was $15.26 at Readings and $9.99 at Amazon.

For the majority of ebooks Readings isn’t anywhere near competitive on price with Amazon. For Readings ebook business to make money they will have to rely on the willingness of Australians to pay much more, in most cases, for their ebooks. Unfortunately, I don’t think many will. Overseas customers will not pay $15 for an ebook when they can get the paperback for far less, so I think Reading will get no overseas sales.

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