I bought my wife a Kindle Fire for Christmas and as a result ended up with her old Kindle. While the majority of my reading will still be of physical books, I’ve been impressed with the Kindle’s convenience. As such, I’ve been looking into uses for it beyond reading a normal novel, specifically the availability of short stories on it.
Unfortunately, it is a good news and bad news scenario. The good news is that there seems to be a growing amount of short fiction on the Kindle, a ton of it actually. For those serious writers out there, the bad news is that there also seems to be a large amount of free fiction as well, both short fiction and novel length.
With the increasingly prevalent impact that technology is having on the publishing industry, I’ve often wondered what impact it would eventually have on those writers who earn their living through their craft. I have to believe that the increasing amount of material made available by hobby writers, many times for free or as good as free, is hurting that side of the industry. If nothing else, the pure saturation of material will likely become overwhelming.
From what I’ve seen on various blogs and magazines, it’s a very hotly debated question – should someone offer their material for free so that they get exposure and readership? I’m a strong supporter of the writing community, from the closet writer without a finished story to his name to those admired few who have the talent and fortitude to make a living at it, be it modest or extraordinary. However, it scares me to see the results when I do a search for ‘short stories’ in the Kindle Store and then narrow it down to Fantasy Kindle ebooks. Eleven of the twelve items displayed on the first screen are all free.
That question may never have a final answer just because each person’s scenario is different. Some people do need to use the opportunity and impact of a free short story as a lead-in for their additional work.
However, the question I haven’t seen posed anywhere though is – How much is the hobby writer adversely impacting those writers who use the Amazon fees to pay their bills?
I’d love to hear thoughts and comments on this.