Publishing Philosophies

eInk, or paper?

We live in the digital age.  Between the 1.5 employees of Cantina Publishing there are 6 different devices which are capable of reading an ebook on a plane during takeoff and landing.  As such, it makes sense that everything that Cantina Publishing publishes is available in (at least one) electronic format.

It happens to also be true that those of us at Cantina Publishing have a preference for the experience of holding a paper book while reading.  But the “dead trees” route of publishing has significantly higher cost associated with it, and so we’re not always capable of delivering a product at a price that makes sense.

In short: ebook? Yes. paper? If it can clear at least 180 pages.

A small press clearly must be agile, how quickly do you get books released?

While it’s true that Cantina Publishing is small, we don’t think it serves anyone well to just cobble something together and shove it out the door. Aside from writing a book in the first place, the most time-consuming period is the editing phase. While it’s always good to edit your own work first, you in the end want to have an independent editorial pass. Since we’re so small it has, to date, not been possible to use an “in-house” editor, and therefore the editorial work has been contracted out. That means getting on someone else’s schedule, which can have a severe impact on a book release schedule.

That’s a really long-winded way of saying “it depends”.

Why do you charge {so much|so little|what you charge}?

eBooks  are a relatively new market, and no one seems to have figured out the right pricing yet.  “Free” is certainly an enticing option to readers, but there’s a tiny bit of hesitation there (the “you get what you pay for” mentality), and it doesn’t help the author keep the heat on.  In most stores $0.99 is the next price point, and it also carries some difficulties with it.  Firstly, there happens to be an awful lot of works that didn’t go through a professional edit at that price-point, which may be causing more distinguished readers to avoid it altogether.  Secondly, again the authors would like to eat, the royalty schemes for $0.99 materials don’t always make sense (for Hive & Heist on Amazon, for example, a sale at $0.99 would produce a royalty of about $0.35, but $3.99 would earn $2.17 — you pay 4x, the author earns 6x!).  We keep playing with the prices on some of our titles, what we really want is to encourage more readers (aka buyers), but still getting paid for it.

Our current printer for physical books is Amazon CreateSpace.  Again, sticking with Hive & Heist as an example, in order to get any royalty at all ($0.01) through the Extended Distribution channel the book has to have a list price of $11.33 or higher.  And everyone wants prices to be $x.00 or $y.99, so the minimum feasible listing price for that title is $11.99.  It’s certainly not the $5.99 that I remember mass market paperbacks being priced at, but it is honestly as low as practicable.

One thing that we feel very strongly about, with regard to pricing, is that an ebook should definitely be cheaper than the print alternative, because there’s clearly less cost to production (a print book has a cost per item sold, an ebook has essentially only the overhead to produce the first copy… and it shares most of that work with the print book!).