Tag Archives: E-Reads

E-Reads Travels to Open Road

Richard Curtis and the E-Readsmobile Prepare to Take to the Open Road

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road
Dear Authors, Agents, Publishers and Friends of E-Reads:

As you know, E-Reads, the e-book publisher I founded in 1999, was recently acquired by Open Road, the largest independent e-book publisher in the English language. As of April 1, 2014 publication of our books will be taken over by Open Road, and the E-Reads website will be closed down. We have recently spent a great deal of time with the management and staff of Open Road and have every confidence that their superb publication and marketing machine will create a warm home for our books and greatly enhance their value.

I am very proud of the list that our superb team of artists and technicians has built in the fifteen years since I started the company, inspired by a vision of a digital publishing future that seemed remote at the end of the 90’s but has become the dominant force in books today. Though we created brilliant covers and a wonderfully robust website, our focus was always on the content itself. We loved books, we loved our books, and it gave us intense pleasure to bring them back to print and share their delights with old fans and a new generation of readers.

Although I’ve posted hundreds of blogs promoting E-Reads’ books, I’m somewhat at a loss for words as I convey my baby to its new home. So I’m going to let one of our most successful authors express what is in my heart.


“E-Reads was a unique, precious, important thing in my life, and, I suspect, in the lives of many others. It was a joy to bring up the site and see what might be cooking on one day or another. I muchly enjoyed your blogs, or whatever they might be called. Too, it was nice to see the write-ups on one book or another. Too, your team was professional, effective, gifted, superb. The site was ample, well-organized, and well managed. It was also very attractive. The scroll arrangement, for example, was a marvelous device for pointing up and calling attention to offering after offering. Too, so many of your covers were marvelous. Of course, it was a pioneer project, too. It was original, and historical. What an amazing, and wonderful, fifteen years…

“E-Reads was an individual island, with its own trees, beasts, and scenery. It was a place where one could locate, and conveniently access, many books by many wonderful authors which were no longer generally available. Your rescue mission saved much that otherwise might have perished. It was a place where one could find such things. It designed for itself a needed role, and it played it splendidly.”
John Norman
I will serve in a consultancy role with Open Road to assist in the transition. And of course my commitment to the clients of my literary agency, Richard Curtis Associates, Inc., remains as absolute as ever.

Richard Curtis



Open Road Integrated Media has acquired E-Reads, it was announced today jointly by E-Reads CEO Richard Curtis and Open Road CEO Jane Friedman.

E-Reads and Open Road, founded ten years apart, share the same passion for the power of digital publishing.

E-Reads was founded in 1999, at the dawn of the digital era. The company is the oldest independent digital publisher in the field and was built to create an ebook market for authors.

Open Road was founded in 2009, just as the ebook market was about to explode. The company was built from the ground up to bring the greats back to life through digital publishing and marketing. Using cutting-edge technology, Open Road connects authors and readers like never before. This is why we are so excited to announce Open Road’s acquisition of E-Reads, uniting the oldest ebook publisher with the largest.

Open Road will bring all of its marketing power to E-Reads’ 1,200+ titles, a majority of which are science fiction and fantasy and also span the romance, mystery, and thriller genres. These incredible books by authors like Dan Simmons, Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, John Norman, Aaron Elkins, Laura Kinsale, and Ray Garton join Open Road’s more than 4,000 titles, adding to its growing genre list.

See the official announcement below for more information on our exciting news.

Thank you for joining us on the Open Road,

Richard Curtis and Jane Friedman

E-Reads’ 1,200+ Titles to Be Published and Marketed by Open Road,
Uniting Oldest Independent Ebook Publisher with Largest

Superstars Dan Simmons, Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, John Norman (Science Fiction and Fantasy), Aaron Elkins, Barbara Parker (Mystery),
Laura Kinsale (Romance), and Ray Garton (Horror)
Add to Open Road’s Growing Genre List

(New York, NY, February 10th, 2014) – Open Road Integrated Media, the largest independent ebook publisher, announced today that it has acquired E-Reads, the oldest independent ebook publisher in the field. E-Reads’ more than 1,200 titles, a majority of which are science fiction and fantasy and also span the mystery, thriller, romance, and horror genres, will now be published by Open Road and marketed through the company’s proprietary platform. E-Reads founder Richard Curtis will consult with Open Road during the transition.

“E-Reads has proven to be as successful as I envisioned when I founded the company in 1999,” says Richard Curtis. “However, as I recently surveyed the state of the industry, it became apparent that it was time to seek an alliance with a company with greater resources, particularly in the all-important area of marketing. I am confident that Open Road will afford all of our books the best opportunity to realize their full potential in a competitive, ever-changing, and increasingly crowded marketplace, and I look forward to playing a role in the integration of these two great firms.”

“E-Reads is one of the publishing industry’s pioneering companies, and it shares Open Road’s passion for the digital future,” says Open Road cofounder and CEO Jane Friedman. “Richard Curtis has built an incredible catalog filled with beloved and bestselling authors, and we are excited to welcome them to the Open Road family as we bring all of our resources to connecting them with readers around the world.”

E-Reads’ catalog spans multiple genres, with a focus on science fiction and fantasy authors including Harlan Ellison, Greg Bear, John Norman, Dave Duncan, Dan Simmons, Brian Aldiss, and Robert Sheckley; mystery bestsellers including Aaron Elkins and Barbara Parker; romance star Laura Kinsale; and horror master Ray Garton, who will now join Open Road’s growing list of genre greats.

Open Road launched as a literary publisher (Mary McCarthy, William Styron, Sherman Alexie, Michael Chabon) and has since expanded into additional genres including science fiction and fantasy (Octavia E. Butler, Theodore Sturgeon), mystery (Carl Hiaasen, Dorothy L. Sayers), and romance (Heather Graham, Amanda Scott), among many others.

This acquisition unites the oldest independent ebook publisher in the field with the largest. E-Reads was founded by Richard Curtis in 1999, at the beginning of the ebook era. Open Road Integrated Media, cofounded by Jane Friedman in 2009, published its first ebook in 2010 and has since grown to become the largest independent ebook publisher, with more than 4,000 titles.

Chris Davis, Open Road COO, led the negotiations on behalf of Open Road. Terms of the deal, which is expected to close on April 1, were not disclosed.

After the closing, the E-Reads website will be taken down and its titles will be featured on Open Road’s website (http://www.openroadmedia.com/), with links to all major e-tailers.

About Open Road
Open Road Integrated Media is a digital publisher and multimedia content company. Open Road creates connections between authors and their audiences by marketing its ebooks through a new proprietary online platform, which uses premium video content and social media. Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors including William Styron, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker, James Jones, and Pearl S. Buck.

About E-Reads
Founded in 1999, at the dawn of the ebook era, E-Reads is the oldest independent digital publisher in the field and an innovative leader in the modern book industry.


Harlan Ellison Opens The Cartons and….

E-Reads has issued a handsome matched collection of over thirty major works by multiple award winning fantasist Harlan Ellison.

Over the course of his legendary career, Ellison has defined–and defied–modern fantasy literature, yet has refused to allow any genre to claim him. A Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, and winner of countless awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker, Ellison is as unpredictable as he is unique, irrepressible as he is infuriating.

E-Reads is proud to publish over thirty titles in Ellison’s brilliant catalog, now available in this elegant new package. Included are such deathless works as Shatterday, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Strange Wine and Deathbird stories. For the complete list visit his author page.

Here’s an entertaining video of Harlan “discovering” the books on his doorstep…


Janet Dailey, Beloved Romance Author, Dies

Janet Dailey, author of over ninety works of historical fiction and popular romances, died unexpectedly at the age of 69 years over the past weekend. She had undergone emergency heart surgery in November but had bounced back and was cheerfully looking forward to returning to work.

She has been a client of Richard Curtis Associates since publication of her bestselling novel HEIRESS and has published dozens more since then, including a police detective trilogy, sequels to her popular Calder western historical series, and Christmas romances for her current publisher Kensington Books. Some sixty of her older titles have been reissued by E-Reads. After the death of her husband Bill she took over operation of his successful Branson, Missouri music theatre business. She also renovated and reopened Ye Olde Englishe Inn in Hollister, Missouri.

Janet Dailey was a trailblazing romance author who matured into a serious chronicler of western history, emphasizing love of the land and the passionate men and women who forged the American west. Her fans will miss her but none more than myself, her friend and agent for decades.
Richard Curtis
Janet Dailey was born Janet Haradon in 1944 in Storm Lake, Iowa. She attended secretarial school in Omaha, Nebraska before meeting her husband, Bill. Bill and Janet worked together in construction and land development until they “retired” to travel throughout the United States, inspiring Janet to write the Americana series of romances, setting a novel in every state of the Union. In 1974, Janet Dailey was the first American author to write for Harlequin. Her first novel was “No Quarter Asked”. She has since gone on to write approximately 90 novels, 21 of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. She has won many awards and accolades for her work, appearing widely on radio and television. Today, there are over three-hundred million Janet Dailey books in print in 19 different languages, making her one of the most popular novelists in the world. For more information about Janet Dailey visit www.janetdailey.com.


How Much Does It Cost You to Produce an E-Book? Part 1

In a post last spring DBW’s Jeremy Greenfield wrote,”Publishers are making a killing on e-books because they cost nothing to produce, distribute and sell and are almost 100% pure profit. At least, that’s what many consumers think.” I’ve been brooding about it since then and thought it might be helpful to give those consumers some insights into how publishers arrive at their prices.

Few subjects have elicited as much wild conjecture as the prices of e-books. Reading rabid allegations of price-gouging, one has to wonder what these critics know about manufacturing costs that we in the e-book industry don’t. Following the proverb Don’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, it might be educational for you to imagine what it would cost you to duplicate the processes that at least one publisher – my own, E-Reads – performs to get a book into the marketplace from raw state to finished product.

E-Reads is among the oldest independent e-book publishers. From its founding our principle has been to split all net receipts with authors on a 50-50 basis. Although we occasionally publish original books, our stock in trade is reprints of previously published ones, particularly genre fiction such as fantasy and science fiction, romance, and action-adventure thrillers. Unlike self-published authors for whom the publication process is generally fast and inexpensive, E-Reads’ production line is artisinal, calling on skills – many of them quite demanding – drawn as much from Old Publishing as from New.

All publishers  incur three fundamental types of expense: hard costs, labor and overhead. Many authors contemplating self-publication look at the hard costs but don’t always focus on the softer ones, namely the value of their time and the cost of living.

Let’s, therefore, start with this question: how much is your time worth?  If you earn, say, $60,000 a year, your time is worth a bit under $30.00 an hour for a forty-hour week. That is the cost of your labor for publishing your own e-book.  But you also have overhead expenses to meet such as rent or mortgage, utility bills, transportation, computer equipment, depreciation and countless other necessities and amenities. When publishers prepare a profit and loss analysis for books they contemplate publishing, they tack on to their hard expenses something like 30% or 35% as the cost of overhead, and you should too.  By adding $10 – around 30% of your $30.00 an hour – onto your labor cost,  your true hourly expense is more like $40.00 than $30.00. Obviously, you should adjust these numbers if your time is worth more or less than that.

The first task we perform to reissue a previously published book is to accurately reproduce the printed text as a digital file. Even if you possess the original text file, for publication purposes it’s useless. The text you turned in to your publisher was subsequently copyedited and proofread. You may want to key into your computer the changes that your publisher made to your original text file.  That will probably take you a minimum of a week – 40 hours. If your hourly cost is $40.00 that’s $1,600.00, a foolish expenditure when it is so much cheaper to have your printed edition scanned.

Scanners in effect take a digital photo of every page of your book and create a crude computer-readable text. I say “crude” because although good scanners are 99% accurate, a 1% error rate in a 300 page book amounts to as many as 900 errors. In any event, scanning costs vary widely from $50.00 a book to several hundred dollars.  Let’s say $150.00, plus, say, an hour packing up and delivering or sending your book to a professional scanning firm.

You will then need to proofread your digitized text. Reviewing and correcting should take about one or two minutes per page, or about 450 minutes for a typical novel that will end up at 300 printed pages.  That’s about eight hours.

Once you have a clean file in hand you’ll want to convert it to ePub, the universal language of e-book publishing. The conversion software is a free download, but the time to convert your text and make sure it’s properly formatted for various retailers may take three or four hours. Say four.

You’ll have to make a cover.  If you choose to buy or commission commercial art the sky’s the limit. We use, and adapt, stock art, also known as clip art. We subscribe to a stock art service to guarantee that the rights to the images we use have been cleared. To the cost of clip art fees or subscription add the value of your time to produce the cover and write jacket copy (and don’t forget the bar code!).  This will all take two hours if you’re lucky. Better allow for three.

You’ll need to furnish a variety of metadata to retailers or they won’t accept your upload. That includes list price, territory, ISBN number, BISAC code, foreign currency conversion, sample chapter, and many other items. For a taste of what you’re getting into, you might want to read Mastering the Mysteries of Metadata first. But allow one or two full days. For the sake of argument we’ll split the difference at 12 hours.

If you want your book printed on paper you can do it cheaply enough through a variety of commercial processes. How good the book will look – many have special formatting issues – is hard to say. Because we are a professional publisher and our POD titles are sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers, we take great pains. It may take a day or two of special formatting for print on demand, for the editorial processes are quite demanding. If you want to adhere to our standards, let’s say one eight-hour day.

Assuming you’ve performed these tasks to perfection you will want to upload the book to various e-book retailers and a print publisher as well. E-Reads’ uploads are managed by Ingram’s excellent CoreSource, but as you’re only uploading one or two books it makes no sense to subscribe to such services. You can distribute via Bookbaby for $99.00, but if you prefer do-it-yourself uploading to all significant retailers it will take several hours of trial and error, for retailers often send you error messages and you will need hours more to troubleshoot and re-upload.  Three hours sounds about right.

There are other functions but these are typical ones.  Tallying up the hours you’ve spent we get 31. At $40.00 per hour that’s a cost of $1,360.00, plus several hundred dollars in hard costs.  Let’s round it off at $1,600.00 to get your previously published book back in print in all formats. That doesn’t include a penny for marketing and publicity.

In the next installment of this posting we’ll set some price points for your book and figure out how many copies you have to sell to make your money back plus a profit.

Richard Curtis

This blog post was originally published on Digital Book World as Are Publishers Making a Killing on E-Books? Part 1



Server Down! Server Down!

Anthony, E-Reads' Technical Director, conducted the greatest migration since the Ice Age

My phone console has a number of speed-dial buttons. There is RC Phone Home, of course. There’s one for our foreign sub-agent with whom I talk daily, and there are those for frequently called clients. There are intercom buttons for buzzing staff. And then there’s the Anthony Button. Anthony is E-Reads’ technical director. The button for his station is bright red. On a Friday morning in December I hit the Anthony Button. Hard.

As that day dawned I noticed that I had not received emails for eight hours. Refreshing and other tried-and-true techniques for goosing the get-mail function availed nothing. Then I clicked on the E-Reads home page. Some of it came in, but where the banner should have been was an error message.

I leaned all my weight on the hot button: ANTHONY! PICK UP!

Anthony had already seen the outage and analyzed it.  “Our cloud server is running on fumes.  We’ve loaded so many files recently that it’s maxed out.  We have to migrate our files to a larger server.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this was happening?” I asked, logically.

“I did,” he reminded me.

And he had.  But a move from the 60 gigabyte capacity of our current server to the 300 gig one we needed was a jump of four or five times the cost and I had dragged my heels.  To make room for more uploads Anthony had trimmed a bunch of junk files but it was hard to tell exactly how close the meter was hovering over Empty.

Once the system went down he didn’t wait around to determine if I was being penny wise and pound foolish (that was now a given). He immediately committed us to the larger server. But the changeover is not implemented with the snap of one’s fingers. Hundreds of thousands of files great and small, text files and jpegs, excel spreadsheets and metadata folders plus backups had to be migrated from computer A to computer B. But even with supercomputers running at peak speed, the transfer would take a minimum of 72 hours. In fact it took 96. Down so long it looked like up to me.

Meanwhile, though our resourceful technical director managed to rescue enough gigabytes to enable us to use our email, our website had to be taken offline.

If you’re looking for a definition of helplessness, try gazing at a “Sorry” message on one’s own website for 24, 48, 72, 96 hours. Though I was assured we had triple backup redundancy, excluding the portable hard drives I ferry once a week between home and office, the paranoid terror of a permanent failure haunted my dreams for four consecutive nights.

On the fifth day it came back, and it was good. Thank you, Anthony.

Wretched though this incident was, the bright side is that it was the result of a company that is growing – growing at a rate of of about 40 gigabytes a year.

Watch this space for the announcement that we’ve topped one terabyte.

Richard Curtis


Perseus to Distribute Self-Pubbed E-Books for Agents

Is the pen mightier than Perseus's sword?

Perseus Book Group, a leading publisher and distributor for small presses, has announced a service to distribute and market self-published books, particularly out of print titles whose rights have been reverted to authors.  It will pay a 70% share of net revenues to content providers, as opposed to the 25% share paid by major publishers and 50% by some independent e-book publishers including E-Reads.

“The service,” writes the New York Times‘ Julie Bosman, “arrives as authors are increasingly looking for ways to circumvent the traditional publishing model, take advantage of the infinite shelf space of the e-book world and release their own work. That’s especially the case for reviving out-of-print books whose rights have reverted back to the author.”

The service is not offered to the general public but is open only to authors represented by literary agents. And though it offers distribution (to such retailers as Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo and Sony) it does not produce the books themselves, meaning that the authors have to create (presumably through scanning) text files, proofread them, format them (such as putting them into ePub), design covers, and undertake other editorial functions now performed by full e-book publishers such as Open Road, Rosetta, and E-Reads (full disclosure: Richard Curtis is CEO of E-Reads).

Perseus CEO David Steinberger made it clear that while the new company, called Argo Navis, “provided distribution and marketing services, the author remained the publisher,” writes Bosman. “While authors get a much higher share of the revenue under this arrangement, they’ll receive fewer of the services, and financial support, provided by publishers under more conventional contracts.”

Authors and agents interested in Perseus’s offering will undoubtedly factor in the time and labor involved in producing books themselves, but this service nevertheless opens the door for literary agents to find a comfortable place in digital publishing on behalf of their clients.  By helping their clients to produce books, they can justify the higher commissions or management fees that many agents now seek to balance softening revenue flow resulting from a struggling book industry.  It is also a way for agents to strengthen bonds with their clients whose eyes may be roving in the direction of independence and self-publication.

New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books

Richard Curtis


E-Reads Enters Joint Venture with Gollancz for UK Publication of 400 SF E-Book Titles

E-Reads has signed a deal with UK publisher Gollancz to publish e-book editions in the UK and Commonwealth of almost 400 science fiction and fantasy titles as part of Gollancz’s Gateway initiative.

Orion deputy CEO and publisher Malcolm Edwards and Gollancz digital publisher Darren Nash negotiated the deal, which includes works by more than 50 authors, with E-Reads founder and president Richard Curtis and agent Danny Baror of Baror International. Titles by authors such as Greg Bear, Harlan Ellison, James Gunn, Fritz Leiber and George Zebrowski will be published in Gateway editions in 2011.

Deputy CEO and publisher Malcolm Edwards said: “Richard Curtis has been a pioneering figure in e-book publishing in the USA, and E-Reads has acquired rights in a lot of books which were on our wish list for Gateway. I’m therefore delighted that we’ve managed to persuade Richard that we’re able to offer a persuasive plan for selling them in our markets.”

Curtis said: “Though E-Reads has been distributing its e-books in the UK, we felt that our authors would be better served having a British publisher take charge of sales and marketing. And what better publisher than Gollancz, whose amazing fantasy and science fiction list is a perfect fit for our own?”

Gollancz’s Gateway project launched earlier this month, making more than 1,000 titles by authors including Philip K Dick and Arthur C Clarke available as e-books through all major e-retailers.


Mike Shatzkin Cites E-Reads

In connection with comments about literary agents who also operate publishing ventures, digital book industry authority Mike Shatzkin said this about E-Reads:

It is worth noting here that there’s one dog that hasn’t barked. Richard Curtis was the first ebook publishing agent. He set up his E-Reads business over a decade ago. He also pays 50% royalties. Richard did not create E-Reads to compete with publishers on royalties but because when he did publishers just wouldn’t do the ebooks. He has built his enterprise since that time to nearly a $1 million annual business (meaning that he’s delivering half-a-million a year to authors for properties that, at least until very recently and perhaps still, would never have been put into ebooks by a publisher.) But his name is noticeably absent from the chorus using higher ebook royalties as a public prod to bedevil publishers.

For the complete article click here.


E-Reads Cuts Prices

Responding to input both from readers and authors, E-Reads has cut list prices for a wide range of selected e-book titles.  Many novels previously priced at $9.99 have been slashed as low as $2.99.  All nonfiction, previously priced at $12.99, will now list at $9.99 or lower.

“After surveying readers and authors and studying creative pricing strategies developed by independent authors, we felt that a drop in price per unit would be balanced by a rise in volume,” said E-Reads CEO Richard Curtis. “The move seems to have worked, as our volume has already risen 10% in the month since the changes took hold. We will continue reviewing and adjusting prices as the market demands.”

E-Reads, founded in 2000, is a leading independent reprinter of previously published books. Its e-books are sold worldwide in the English language at the Kindle, Nook, Sony, Apple, Diesel, Kobo and other retail and library websites, and trade paperbacks at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.