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Bermudian author jumps to Kindle

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Libraries, bookstores, even reading itself may soon be a thing of the past if the current trend towards electronic book publishing continues, but one Bermudian author thinks they may also open up the publishing world to a greater range of writers.

This year, Amazon was projected to sell eight million Kindles, their version of the electronic book reader. Sony also makes an electronic book reader, and your iPod or iPod Touch already has one.

Kirk Outerbridge has both his books online. 'Eternity Falls', which just received an award from the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, is there as is his latest release, 'The Tenth Crusader'.=

The books are part of an emerging genre called Christian speculative fiction basically fiction or science fiction with a Christian outlook.

“The whole traditional book publishing industry is hurting a bit,” said Mr Outerbridge. “The world is changing. My books are available on Kindle, although I don't have one personally. I have heard they are handy.”

He said because his publisher, Marcher Lord Press, didn't have the inventory of traditional publishers, books are printed on demand or available for download.

The result is less overhead for the publisher who is therefore more willing to take a risk.

“Traditional publishers do book runs of maybe 5,000 to 10,000 copies and there is so much stock. If the book doesn't sell well it is a bad investment for them and they lose out,” said Mr Outerbridge. “A publisher like mine is going to fill the gap with a combination of print-on-demand and print online.

“So my publisher is able to take more risk with first-time authors like myself.”

He said there are many very good writers who might apply to a traditional publishing house and be rejected, because the publisher didn't want to take a risk on a new writer.

“The writer's stuff might be great, but the publishing house needs to know they can make money, especially in these times,” he said.

And Mr Outerbridge said he is already getting feedback from electronic reader sales.

“I have had people say they have read my books on Kindle,” he said. “I think a lot of our sales come through Kindle sales. There is more profit from Kindle sales.”

A lot of hardcore readers remain on the fence about electronic readers. They cling to paper books because many people have a visceral connection to their books.

They like the feel of paper and they like the smell. And books seem more practical. If your book falls into a puddle all is not lost.

If you leave your book on the plane or a park bench, you're out $30 at the most. If the Internet is down or there's no WiFi around or no power, you can still read your paper book.

On the other hand, you can carry an entire library around on an electronic reader which weighs about the same as the average paperback.

You can also download the reader for free to your home computer, and then just pay for the book download the book is available in the time it takes your computer or electronic reader to download it.

Last year, Jacob Weisberg, the editor-in-chief of the Slate Group which publishes Slate, an online magazine, called Kindle a “fundamentally better experience”.

He wrote that Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had sparked a cultural revolution.

“Printed books, the most important artifacts of human civilisation, are going to join newspapers and magazines on the road to obsolescence,” wrote Mr Weisberg.

One of the downsides, however, is that in a world with only electronic books, many of the freedoms that readers currently enjoy may disappear or be heavily controlled by corporations.

Imagine having to sign a licence agreement in the same way you do when you download many computer programmes.

According to the Amazon.com website you cannot currently buy a Kindle book for someone else. You have to buy an Amazon.com gift card for someone else and let them buy the download they want.

You cannot pass on your Kindle download to someone else, and you cannot resell it.

On the other hand, as a writer, having your book digitised makes it easier for your book to be pirated and sold on the black market, in a similar way that films are pirated and sold.

However, Mr Outerbridge was not bothered by this idea.

“You can't just worry about that,” he said.

But he was concerned about the possible loss of bookstores, which have already taken a beating in the last couple of years.

And because electronic readers come with a voice-over, some have questioned if it signals the end of reading altogether.

“Will reading die altogether?” said Mr Outerbridge. “I don't know. I know that the way people are writing is being influenced by the film world. I know when I was writing [my book] my publisher encouraged me to write it as though it was a movie.

“My editor says if it can't be envisioned like a movie it shouldn't be on the page.

“Show versus tell is the basis of good fiction, but sometimes a good writer will only use one sentence to describe something rather than describing every object in the room, so you get the movie effect. It seems like we are dumbing down fiction a bit.”

Award winning author Kirk Outerbridge who believes e-readers like the Kindle will open a publishing world for writers.
Amazon's Kindle, which has sold millions worldwide.

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Published December 29, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 29, 2010 at 7:59 am)

Bermudian author jumps to Kindle

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