Here is the Kindle Best Sellers in Science Fiction showing two lists, Top 100 Paid and Top 100 Free.
The #1 book on the paid list is A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. Okay, that’s natural, it tops other bestseller lists too.
#2 is five John Carter novels bundled together for 99 cents. I can see that, the movie is getting people to read the old ERB books.
第二名是只賣99分的五本John Carter的書，這可以理解，電影正在促使別人去讀John Carter的這些老作品。
#3 is Ender’s Game – another natural, but it’s old. I guess people with a new reading gadget are rereading their old favorites. Cool.
#4 is Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. WTF? Who is Hugh Howey? And he’s got 277 customer reviews! In fact, Hugh Howey has several Kindle books in the Top 100 paid. How did this unknown writer get in the Top 100 Kindle SF books?
第四名是Hugh Howey的《Wool Omnibus》，幹，誰是Hugh Howey？而且他擁有227個讀者的評價。事實上，H.H還有一些書有上Kindle百大銷售榜，這個無名的作者究竟是怎麼爬上Kindle百大科幻小說銷售榜的？
Going down this Kindle Top 100 list for Science Fiction I realize that unknown authors are grabbing many positions on both the paid and free Top 100 lists. There’s a smattering of old time favorite SF writers, Heinlein has two titles, Asimov, one, and a few modern SF writers of note like Dan Simmons and Orson Scott Card have a few more, but for the most part the these best sellers are books I haven’t heard of before, by authors unknown to me.
繼續看這個榜單，讓我發現，有很多不知名的作者，在百大銷售榜跟百大免費閱讀榜都佔據一席之地。這裡面有少數的老經典作者，海萊茵有兩個作品上榜，艾西莫夫有一個，近代知名作者如Dan Simmons和Orson Scott Card有比較多一點，但更多暢銷書的書名和作者都是我從未聽過的。
Is the Kindle changing the reading habits of science fiction readers? And other genres as well?
My favorite science fiction writer is Robert A. Heinlein, but then I’m 60 and my reading tastes are as old as I am. When I started reading science fiction in the 1960s Heinlein-Clarke-Asimov were the big three of the genre. Most of the SF authors I’ve discovered in the last 50 years don’t have books on this list. Why? Are they out of fashion, or has Kindle reading habits changed things dramatically?
How are low cost and free Kindle books going to affect professional writers? Also, notice the name of the publishers of these books – they are unknown to me, so I have to wonder if they aren’t self-published.
Supposedly, Kindle books are outselling all other forms of books, so is this what people are really reading in the SF genre today?
Many of Heinlein’s books are available for the Kindle, but only two are in the Top 100, and one of those is there because Amazon put it on sale last month. There are many Kurt Vonnegut books in the Top 100 Paid listing, but again, they are on sale this month. Amazon uses the technique of lowering the price of a book for a few days to get attention and then upping the price. New, unknown writers, are using the same technique with their self-published books, and evidently its working very well. Better than book reviews, better than word of mouth reviews. Establish writers are now using that trick too. That trick only works with Kindle ebooks. It would be interesting to see if it worked with printed books.
Kindle上有很多海萊茵的書，但只有兩本進入百大銷售榜，其中一本還是因為Amazon上個月才上架，才有機會入榜。榜上還有很多Kurt Vonnegut的書，但它們同樣是這個月才開始販售的。Amazon利用先低價賣書來吸引注意、之後提升價格的技巧來賣書。那些新的、無名的作者，也利用同樣的技巧來賣他們自己出版的作品，事實證明這種方式運作得很好，甚至比book reivews或word of mouth reviews都好。已成名的作者現在也開始使用這種詭計，雖然它現在只能用在Kindle的電子書上，但要是有人把它用在紙本出版上，那將是值得觀察的趣事。
If you look at Locus Bestsellers for March 2012, many of their books aren’t on the Kindle bestseller list. If you look at Amazon’s Best Sellers in Science Fiction general list that includes printed books and Kindle books, the makeup of this list is different, but the Kindle books are having a huge impact. Here is the Science Fiction Book Club Top 100 Bestsellers. Notice how it’s dominated by series, media tie-ins and non-science fiction titles. The SFBC has little science fiction. Not so for the Kindle list. Evidently would-be writers are very anxious to write science fiction and readers are finding it on Amazon to consume in mass quantities on their Kindles.
There’s more new science fiction, and dare I say, more exciting sounding science fiction by the unknown authors at the Kindle store. Big publishers push blockbusters and name authors, and media related books, so the unknown writer doesn’t have much of a chance, but that’s not true in the wild west gold rush of self-published ebooks. Something is happening here, and we don’t know what it is.
The press has been full of stories for the last two years about how ebooks are impacting traditional publishing, but I don’t think they imagined the paradigm change that self-publishing is making on bookselling. Self-published ebooks are becoming the universal slush pile for all readers to work through to find that gem they want to make a success. Discovering a new author and promoting her can become a new form of social networking.
Think about that. In the old days assistant editors would cull the slush pile for worthy books to show editors. Getting a book published was a long slow process that winnowed out the bad. Now Amazon has made free ebooks the slush pile anybody can read. If it gets a lot of downloads they put a price on it, if it sells, they promote it. If it keeps selling, they publish paper copies. If it keeps selling, a big name publisher will grab up the author.
But do we really want to be slush pile readers? I’m old, and have little time, so I usually go with the definitive classic now, but young people with lots of time seem to have no problem trying an unknown writer. Those people are pushing Hugh Howey forward.
I’ve thought science fiction has lost most of its vitality in recent years. Writers have become obsessed with series, trying to build their book sales by pushing a popular character. That’s comfortable for some readers, but I liked when science fiction writers were always trying to top each other with far out ideas. I don’t know if the self-publishing revolution will bring back those days, but maybe.
Finally, does it mean if you don’t own a Kindle you’ll be out of touch with the popular reading reality? Yes!
SF Signal is a good site to keep up with free SF. They feature almost a daily roundup of free science fiction. Today Chasing Vegas by Tad Vezner caught my attention. The customer reviews at Amazon are very encouraging and it has a great cover. The old saying is you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I don’t know if that’s completely true. It seems to me, the best of the self-published books have nice covers. I don’t know if that’s a real indicator or not. But in this new paradigm of reading from the slush pile I’m not willing to try just any book. I look for customer reviews and a good cover. I hope self publishing authors will do two things. Hire an editor and buy a cover.
SF Signal是個不停追踪免費科幻小說情報的好網站。其特色是將近每天報導免費科幻小說的新聞。今天Tad Vezner寫的《Chasing Vegas》就吸引了我的注意。Amazon上的讀者評價非常正面，而且它也擁有一個好的封面。以前的人總說，你不能根據封面來評斷書的內容，但我不知道這種說法是否完全正確。對我來說，賣得最好的自費出版作品都有好的封面。我不敢確定這真的是暢銷與否的指標，但以我為例，我在融雪堆裡探索書時，通常都會根據讀者的評價和好的封面去選書，至於那些封面不好的書，我則碰也不碰。我希望自費出版的作者將會做兩件事——僱傭一個編輯，並買個好的封面。