Small press publisher Cemetery Dance joined the digital publishing party in a big way this week, debuting their own eBooks store with 20 hard-to-find titles on display and many more coming.
CD is in a unique position to make this move a successful one because of the high quality of their back catalog. They’ve worked with virtually every heavy hitter in the horror industry, from Stephen King to Peter Straub to Jack Ketchum to Brian Keene. They’re established enough in the marketplace that their digital line complements their main business, which is quality crafted limited editions, instead of replacing it. And, they have a lot of exclusive material which isn’t already available at a cheaper price point somewhere else.
For example, one of the books now available (in multiple formats, including for Nooks and Kindles) is Shades, the long-out-of-print collaboration between Keene and Geoff Cooper. The original hardcover incarnation is difficult to find, and someone who simply wants to read it would likely pay more than the digital price of $7.99 to get their hands on one. For collectors, the hardcover is still out there; for readers and more casual fans, it’s available for perhaps the first time ever.
I think this move is a great one for CD, and although I’ll be a proponent of the good old-fashioned physical book for the rest of my life, I can’t deny the new possibilities digital publishing is opening up. For authors, it offers exposure to a new audience that can’t risk $40 or more for an unknown quantity, but may be willing to part with less than $10 to give something new a try. More readers = more revenue = better likelihood that we’ll see more work from those writers.
It’s good for CD because it brings them new customers and more exposure, yet it doesn’t hurt their core audience, which buys books as collectibles. In fact, I’m betting that many CD customers will buy the physical book as a collectible, and the electronic version to read so they don’t have to take the collectible out of its shrinkwrap.
Finally, it’s good for readers. We get new, affordable editions of books that we otherwise may not get to read; we get the opportunity to discover new authors while risking less cash; and we still have access to CD’s physical books with their great aesthetic values.
It’s also a (small) victory for Amazon, as this looks like the final push I needed to jump on the Kindle bandwagon. After all, it’s my duty as someone who writes about books to stay on top of these things, right? Works for me….