Here’s a real thrill: a free ebook

It’s not a free lunch, but close. Through the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization, fans of the genre are being offered a free ebook, Watchlist It’s an “ensemble” effort written by 22 top-of-the-line authors including Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child and Lisa Scottoline.

Until December 21st you can download your free copy of Watchlist here:

So, ebooks–do they really represent the book of the future? I think so.
(Although I don’t think traditional cloth-and-paper tomes will ever disappear.)

When I began writing Eyewall sometime in 2006, I don’t believe I’d heard the term “ebook.” Or, if I had, I’d blown it off as some kind of geeky electronic concept that had no relevance to the world of “real” books.

Oops. Here we are four years later, and knowledgeable predictions are that within three years the number of ebooks sold will equal or exceed the number of traditional books peddled.

Personally, even earlier this year, I was absolutely certain I’d never read a book or anything else on one of those electronic contraptions. Then after I learned Eyewall would be heavily marketed in e-format, I began paying closer attention to the tectonic shift taking place within the publishing universe.

I’m a true believer now. I can’t ignore how rapidly ebooks are taking over the market.
(I don’t yet own an e-reader, but I know I’m getting one for Christmas. So I’ll keep you posted as I go through my 12-step program on my way to becoming a reformed Luddite.)

“Dead-tree” books still dominate the market ($35 billion in sales in 2009), but ebook revenues (only $81 million in 2009) are increasing exponentially. now sells more ebooks than hardcovers (in June: 143 ebooks for every 100 hardcovers). And why not, when you can buy a new novel for your Kindle or Nook for 60% off the retail price of a freshly minted hardcover?

Not only that, I, as an author, will earn a much nicer royalty off my ebooks than I will the paper-and-ink versions, even though the ebooks will take in fewer dollars per sale

Here are some other interesting stats. Former literary agent Nathan Bransford has been tracking the acceptance of ebooks in informal yearly polls since 2007. In that year, 49% of respondents said they’d never buy mostly ebooks. As Nathan termed the category, “You can pry my paper books from cold, dead hands.” Only 7% answered that they’d “absolutely” purchase ebooks.

Jump ahead to 2010. In the most recent poll, a dwindling 30% endorsed the “cold, dead hands” stance, while 32% said “absolutely.” That 32% figure represents a jump of 13 percentage points from just last year. Even a simple linear extrapolation puts the percentage over 50 within two years.

It’ll happen faster than that.

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