Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I’m getting pretty close to uploading CRIME ALWAYS PAYS to Kindle (mock-up cover, right, by my own fair hand), courtesy of others more technologically advanced than I, but I have to say that there isn’t the same excitement involved as when I have had a conventional book published. Maybe that’ll change as we get closer to the date, but I don’t know. I think it’s partly to do with the electronic format – I don’t own an e-reader myself, so there’ll be nothing tangible for me to hold in my hands and say, ‘That’s mine, I did that’. There’ll be nothing to go on the shelf, nothing to show the grandchildren … boo-hoo, etc.
  Still and all, publishing is publishing, and I’d far rather the story was out there being read, even by very few people, than gathering dust in my bottom drawer. I mean, I love books like the next guy or gal, but I love them for their stories, not for their design or what they represent, or for any other reason. Apologies to ye olde bibliophiles out there, but the story is first, last and always with me. And I honestly believe, despite being agnostic about the e-readers, that the new technologies will be good for the story, much in the way the novel was good for the story when it came along.
  For what it’s worth, I think the e-readers are doomed if they persist in offering only one option – i.e., written text. Until they start offering the options of music, movies and possibly gaming, they’re not going to cross over into the mainstream, like iPods. I know quite a few people who consider themselves readers who read about 10-15 books per year, and I know some people who consider themselves readers on the basis of reading 4-5 books per year. Those people – the vast majority of readers, I’d argue, being the book club readers, and the holiday readers – aren’t going to invest in an e-reader, because it doesn’t make any financial sense.
  Still, while most of the emphasis on the recent technological developments in the world of publishing seems to be focusing on marketing, sales and profits, an understandable if short-term fixation, especially given the current economic climate, I haven’t come across many people talking about the story-telling possibilities.
  I remember there was a craze many years ago for books in which the reader decided how the story ran, by choosing at the end of a chapter whether to jump to page 93 or page 147, and so on. A stupid bloody idea, but there you go. Anyway, last year I uploaded a novel to the web, and was very tempted to provide links in the text – for example, when I mentioned the Spartans, I’d provide a link to take you through to a history of the Spartans, or a particularly interesting story about them. Along with the links, I wanted to embed video in the text, and incorporate mood music … In essence, I suppose, the idea was to position the blog roughly halfway between that of a novel and a movie. I didn’t have the time or tech skills, but I’m thinking the Kindle / Sony Reader might be the perfect platform for this kind of thing.
  There are potential downsides, the main one being that a reader might well jump out of your novel into an account of the Spartans, and from there to the Peloponnesian wars, and from there onwards into the online universe, never to return to your novel again. I’d argue that it’s your job as a writer is to make your story interesting enough to bring them back to the source over and over again.
  How anyone would make any money out of a project like that I have no idea, and care less. I’d say it’d be fun, though. Especially if you started interacting with other writers and their stories ...
  Meanwhile, I’m curious – how many of you actually own an e-reader, or are contemplating buying one? And how many of you would rather take a fork in both eyes than read a novel on an e-reader?


Bob said...

Own a Sony, love it and wouldn't be without it. Reading on it is hassle free.
Now if only they'd drop the unjustifiably high price of ebooks. Any I've bought so far have been drastically reduced, on sale etc etc and the selection still isn't as good as it should be.

Donna said...

I have a Sony e-Reader and I love it. It's brilliant for travelling (when I would normally not travel without 3 normal books (the idea of being stuck in an airport without a book brings me out in a cold sweat). It's handily compact and fits in my handbag without giving me backache and it means i have a lot of choice of stuff to read. Plus, it means I can have all those Richard S Prather books that I can't find in book format.

Having said all that, I would never move away from printed books and they are always my first choice when buying books. At home, I seldom read off my eReader, preferring the feel of a proper book. Plus, the Sony hurts my nose when it falls on it after I fall asleep with it in my hand.

Dana King said...

I don't own an e-reader, and have no interest in buying one. I'd probably only stick a fork in my left eye, though, as it already doesn't work all that well, and I am realistic enough to adapt to live on the ground, so an e-reader may become de rigueur some day.

Of course, I'm pretty old, so that may not be a problem for me.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

So far, I'm of the fork-in-the-eyes school. I love the feel of a solid, fragrant new book in my hands, one with fun and insight and adventure caught between its pages. Trading all of that in for a plastic box holds no appeal.


John McFetridge said...

First of all, congratulations on the publication - however it's done. And what a great cover.

Now, is it possible to offer Crime Always Pays as a POD book through someplace like Or is there some kind of exclusivity rights at Kindle?

I don't own an e-reader, but I do want one. I like the idea of a dedicated reader (hell, I have a dedicated chair for reading). I'm an old fogey and when I read that's all I want to do. I want to get lost in the novel.

Josephine Damian said...

I think it's just like every other aspect of publishing - few people own e-readers just as few read books, period. There are far more people "publishing" to kindle than reading anything on a kindle, or other e-reader gizmo. I don't think that will change if prices come dowen further or gizmo has more features.

Seems to me the majority of people who own e-readers are agents, since they (have to) read a lot and an e-reader allows them to carry a ton of books in a compact form.

I thought you needed a US bank acct. to do this...

Bill Crider said...

Well, I wouldn't take the fork, but I still don't own a reader. I like books, and I'll stick with 'em for a while. (Though I have to admit that an e-reader might reduce the piles and piles of books in my house.)

Rob Kitchin said...

I've no e-reader and no real desire to buy one. There's something about hardcopy that I'm presently unwilling to give up even if it means lugging half a dozen books around when I go on holiday. I'm also worried that the technology is moving too fast and there's no agreed data standards across the industry which might mean that they'll be legacy issues going forward. I want to know that I can read a book I bought 20 years ago without either buying it again or trying to port it to some new technology. Anyone who has old computer games that will only play on an old machine because the drivers don't exist on newer machines will know all about losing a cultural media because of technological change (or own betamax tapes, or VHS tapes for that matter). Books are at least a stable media over very long time periods. If I could get the electronic version bundled with the hardcopy version I'd be happy (in the same way I can buy the CD and rip it for the ipod).

If there was a possibility of a POD route to supplement the Kindle that would be great or some PDF version I can download to the PC and print out!

About Me said...
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About Me said...
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Steve Weddle said...

I'm a fan of books, whatever the format.

That said, I read many books on my iPod Touch, using the Stanza reader and the Kindle store. Having a hundred books in my pocket (ahem) is great. I can take the iPod out and read. I can't always carry a big hardback with me, but I've always got the iPod. I've read long mysteries on my Treo, as well. The convenience of having the book always with me is just fantastic.

I don't "get" the Kindle, though. I wouldn't always have that with me as it's kinda bigger than my pocket. So, what's the point? I'd rather carry a real book than a Kindle. With the Kindle, you get no color and a big block to carry around. I don't get it.

So, I'm looking forward to picking up Crime Always Pays on the iPod, via the Kindle store.

Peter Rozovsky said...

"I know quite a few people who consider themselves readers who read about 10-15 books per year, and I know some people who consider themselves readers on the basis of reading 4-5 books per year. Those people – the vast majority of readers, I’d argue, being the book club readers, and the holiday readers – aren’t going to invest in an e-reader, because it doesn’t make any financial sense."

If you don't want to be considered a thinker on publishing on technology, you'd better stop giving voice to sensible thoughts like the above.

I will hesitate ever to buy an e-reader until technology is no longer proprietary -- until any e-book can be read on any e-reader, and there is no danger of an e-reader being rendered obsolete bu the next model.
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”

Declan Burke said...

Cheers, folks, much obliged ...

John, that's not the cover, squire - that was just me screwing around. I don't own that image, unfortunately ...

Josephine, that's an interesting idea, that there's more people publishing to Kindle than are reading on it ... intriguing. As for the bank a/c problem, where there's a will there's a way ...

Rob - welcome aboard, squire.

Steve - I hear you on the 'convenience' aspect ... I'm hearing a lot of that over the last while.

Peter - I think you're on the nail with 'proprietary technology' ... Again, until the issues are sorted out the way music has sorted itself out, formats-wise, I think there'll be a slow take-up on the e-readers.

Cheers, Dec

Michael Haskins said...

Dec, I don't have Kindle but I am almost formatted to put Chasin' the Wind on Kindle. It is out of print, I am told, and I own the e-rights, so why not! A few more months and I have the paperback rights too. Good luck with Kindle, but I hope some publisher is smart enough to pick you up. I wanna read more.

Josh Schrank said...

Dec, I own a Kindle DX and absolutely love it... usually. Books to me are, well.. a convenient way of getting print to a reader. If you can do that electronically, I'm all for it. There are however, a few drawbacks that I did not consider when I purchased the beast.

1. Going to a book-signing is pretty much a dead end deal. You can meet the author, but what is he/she gong to sign?

2. You can't loan or give your book to your friend that is in the hospital. If everyone went to readers, there would be no second hand reading.

3. And finally, I can toss a book into my backpack and be gone on a hike. With the Kindle I'm always worried I'm going to crack the thing. It is extremely thin.

Those things aside, I like the compactness of it, plus the ability to get books whenever and wherever I want.

Now if it would only come with a Glenfiddich tap.

bookwitch said...

A fork feels slightly drastic, dear boy. But I don't own an e-reader, and am tempted to say I never will. But then I said I'd never do email, either.

How are you going to sign CAP to your three fans?