Sunday, August 22, 2010



There has been much gnashing of teeth regarding the e-book revolution, particularly Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform, allowing a lot of books to be published that are so bad they would never have seen the light of print through traditional publishing outlets. The theory here being traditional publishers are the gate keepers who valiantly save their readers from being overwhelmed with crap written in crayon on butcher paper.

While at first glance this stance may have some validity, in reality it’s a load of hogwash. Traditional publishing has killed the midlist writer – work-a-day authors producing great stories while not becoming mega-sellers – and continues to confront readers with crap written in crayon on butcher paper disguised as the latest celebrity tell-all bestseller.

Yes, the ease of e-book publishing has made some very dubious titles available. However, in browsing through e-titles on Amazon priced at $2.99 and under, I have no trouble discerning poorly written crap from something that sparks my interest. Simply reading the blurbs describing the titles gives a perfect snapshot of what to expect from a e-novel – if the blurb reads like crap, chances are the novel is crap.

Conversely, if the blurb reads in a reasonably literate fashion, Amazon always provides a free sample for your perusal. By the time you’ve finished the sample, you’ve got a fairly good idea how much you are gambling by parting with under three bucks.

I’ve made a number of new author finds in this fashion and have yet to want my money back. This doesn’t mean everything I’ve purchased has been a gold nugget traditional publishers refused to publish out of simple arrogance. However, I’ve enjoyed a number of intriguing stories from authors I’d read again.

Specific case in point are two titles by Brian Drake – Justified Sins and Reaper’s Dozen, one a hardboiled novel and the other a collection of intriguing short stories. While both suffer from so-so covers, the story blurbs caught my interest:


When Sheila Webster’s husband is killed a after double-crossing the men who hired him to crack one last safe, she finds herself the next target. What her husband stole, he managed to hide, and now the men who hired him are after her to get the stolen goods back.

There’s only one person she can turn to.

Her foster brother. A dangerous man named Mr. Pierce, who sets out to not only settle the score but protect the only family he has left.


Twelve thrilling tales of crime and suspense by a writer whom USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Forster says is “a fresh, new voice in modern crime that shouldn’t be missed.”

Meet Tony Fallon, a rookie cop who learns a hard lesson when he must save a woman kidnapped by an ex-boyfriend; private eye John Coburn, who won’t let the law get in the way of revenge; Jack Rose, who helps a ghost solve her murder; David Hood, who must protect his son when both are taken hostage in their own home; Roger Flynn, who receives a ransom note for a wife he doesn’t have; Alan Fargo, who commits murder to cover-up another crime; and Matt Webb, a hit man who considers himself just another working. . . stiff.

It was actually the line about a character who receives a ransom note for a wife he doesn’t have was what hooked me into checking out Drake’s website (CLICK HERE) and finding a coupon code to reduce my financial gamble even more. I ended up spending less than three bucks for both titles and spent the rest of the evening reading and congratulating myself on getting such a cool bargain.

I’ll be keeping up with Drake (and several other authors discovered in the same manner) to see what he writes next. I’m also glad he’ll probably personally get more of my three bucks (because of publishing on the e-platform) than if I’d paid twenty-five bucks if he’d been traditionally published in hardcover.

The world of novels and storytelling is rapidly morphing. Unless traditional publishers and chain bookstores make significant and rapid changes, they will be disappearing from the landscape.

I’m not predicting the demise of books. I personally love them too much to let that happen, but reading, writing, and publishing are undergoing similar changes to what began happening in the music business ten years ago - giving listeners a whole new access to indy music, the ways to pick and chose music, and ways of listening.

Books, like music, won’t die – but definite change is afoot.

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