Monday, October 1, 2012

Moment of Euphoria

Yesterday I was on my way home from my son's soccer match when I opened the browser in my mobile phone. Saw a notification on my Facebook profile. An old friend from Finland had posted a screen catch on my profile timeline. Finnish iBooks front page. Showing my debut novel Meduusa as the first one in section Thrillers.
I have to say I was surprised. In the beginning of the past summer, 3-4 months after my short story collection My Hometown Named Love was published, I had edited and partially rewritten Meduusa, originally published in Finland in 2006. I had added some more meat on the characters, added a few things and changed the cover design. Published it as an e-book in early July. In less than three months it was appearing next to some bigger names.
I compared the prices. Price for Meduusa was only 4,99 euros. Decent for an e-book. Others were asking somewhat 18,99. My conclusion was that getting to that page was probably due to lower pricing.
Some hours later I decided to Google some other charts, if such existed. I ended up in a site showing Apple iTunes stores in each country, songs, movies, e-books. I hit the top100 e-book downloads in Finland.
For my surprise Meduusa was at # 2. I nearly got a heart attack. The only one ahead was the first volume of much talked Fifty Shades of Gray. Behind me were Steve Jobs and Zlatan Ibrahimovic biographies, second and third volume of Fifty Shades of Gray as well as recently published new novel The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.
As I came home, prepared to unpack the soccer team gear, making some lunch, taking the rubbish out, I wondered how many of my old friends had purchased the e-book. One of my old work mates had bumped into Meduusa when entering the iTunes store. I don't know if the price was an issue, but he had purchased it. Maybe someone else had, too. There are not that many Finnish e-books available in lower prices.
Some hours went in a small euphoria, even when the glamour is probably far away from these sales figures.
E-book sales in Finland are still very small. It could be a matter of few downloads to shoot passed the better known titles. It's also partially about the pricing issue. Whether to ask 11,99 or 18,99 euros or just 4,99 for the product. For less well known writers it matters.
But those hours and the picture posted on my FB wall did tell that work I've done matters. Those hours also restored my faith in e-book revolution. The revolution that has in English-speaking countries suffered from steep growth in numbers of e-books available for sale. When there are more titles sharing the same sales, figures often stay small.
Finland, a high tech IT country, still much sticking to traditional publishing, will most likely enter the e-book revolution later than many other countries. These kind of sales figures might be small for several years. Especially if the e-book prices will stay high and the value added tax for e-books stays in 23 compared to 9 for traditional books.
Still I've decided to invest in the future. Two, five or ten years from now things might be totally different than they are now. But I can see the dawn.