Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Embracing the E-book Revolution

(Update: My website has undergone several reincarnations since this post and these ebooks are no longer available there. Instead, you can find new versions of these ebook singles on Amazon, here.)

Free e-book singles!

The Sway of the Dead – Use promo code ZOMBIES (or ZOMBIES2 if you have a Kindle)

The Knight’s Dog – Use promo code KNIGHT (or KNIGHT2 if you have a Kindle)

For a guy who’s fairly savvy with technology, I’ve been dragging my feet on the whole e-book thing the last couple of years. I just prefer reading books the old fashioned way. I’m no fool, though, and as both an author and an avid reader, I definitely see the benefit of e-books and e-book readers. Hell, as I mentioned in my previous post, I even signed a contract with an e-book publisher last month for my newest novel, Dreamwielder; and as of Christmas, I’m a proud new owner of a Kindle Fire. One of the coolest aspects of the new generation of e-readers and tablets is that, not only are they portable, they’re great for short diversions—whether it be checking your e-mail, playing Words with Friends, updating your FB status, or dare I say, even reading short stories!?

I’ve long been entertaining the idea of putting together a collection of my short fiction, but it’s never made much sense, even if I went the route of self-publishing. People simply don’t buy short story collections from little-known authors. I get it. Taking a chance with an unknown novel is one thing. It's easier to get caught up in the story and keep going, and worst case you give it fifty, maybe a hundred pages to draw you in and if you don’t like it, you can chuck the book aside knowing you gave it a shot. With a short story collection, though, even if you like a story, it’s soon over, and then you have to try to get into another story, completely disconnected from the first. I have a hard time reading collections cover-to-cover even when it’s from one of my favorite authors.

What I do like, however, is to have a short story handy when I have fifteen, twenty minutes to kill, and I think other readers are the same. That’s where e-readers come in so handy. They make it simple and convenient to read short stuff. Indeed, many publishers and authors believe e-readers are going to usher in a new era of popularity for short stories and novellas. I agree. Just like the advent of mp3s, Napster, and iTunes changed the music industry to be more single driven as opposed to album driven, e-readers will open up new opportunities for short fiction. With that in mind, I have launched my very own e-book single store at my website www.garrettcalcaterra.com.

The idea here is bypass the middle-man (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, etc.) and make it easy for readers to access and enjoy the best of my short work for a reasonable price. The books are all priced at 99 cents a pop and come in both of the standard e-book formats (E-pub and MOBI). Owners of iPads and the new Google Nexus tablets should be able to download the E-pub formats directly from the built-in web-browser and open the books. Kindles area bit more of a problem child. For whatever reason, the Kindle’s web browser does not recognize the e-book files and it does not allow you to save the files into your “books” folder. (My guess is Amazon has done this on purpose, the bastards…) Kindle owners, therefore, must download the MOBI files to a computer first and then transfer them into the “books” folder via USB. Lame. If anyone figures out a better solution, please let me know in the comments below. Likewise, if you have a Nook, please let me know whether you’re able to download the E-pub files directly or if you have to use a USB cable. Let’s use this blog post as discussion thread—if you have any solutions, suggestions, or problems with the e-book store, please comment below. I want to make the downloading experience as painless as possible, and your feedback is much appreciated. And for what it’s worth, I’m hardly alone in this sort of venture. I haven't seen any authors do this sort of thing, but many book publishers are looking into selling e-books directly from their own websites in the near future, so it’s something that’ll have to get sorted out soon. (It seems to me if Amazon and B&N make it too difficult to download books from other sites, they risk alienating readers and sending them to competitors’ tablets, but then again, what the hell do I know?)

For those of you who don’t have an e-reader or tablet, fret not, there are free programs that allow you to read e-books on your desktop or laptop computer. I recommend caliber, which reads all e-book formats, or you can get the Kindle reader if you’re an Amazon devotee.

I think that’s about it. Again, please leave comments below if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. And enjoy the e-book singles! These are the best of my short stories, and while most of them have appeared previously in small magazines and anthologies, I’m excited to finally make them available to a wider audience. Viva la revolucion!

-Garrett Calcaterra

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