Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tolkien Among the E-Books

So, one of the v. first (indeed, I think THE first) e-books I bought when we first got the Kindle, several years ago now, was THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT, quickly followed by THE SILMARILLION and THE BOOK OF LOST TALES (vols. I & II).

I'd been wanting a searchable copy of Tolkien's books for years, and here they were, available at last. At that time there were relatively few books on/about Tolkien available either as e-books or as audio-books. And, oddly enough, they tended to be not the great classics of Tolkien scholarship -- Carpenter, Kocher, Shippey, Flieger, &c -- but Xian interpretations of Tolkien's work (Kreeft, Wood, Rutledge, Arthur). By and large that still seems to be the case, but a quick check of Amazon's Kindle store shows that a lot more titles are becoming available, both by (SIGURD & GUDRUN) and about (the Jason Fisher collection, to which I'm a contributor).*

Which made the following paragraph appearing in the newest BEYOND BREE particularly interesting. Coming at the end of a piece about e-books and Tolkien, David Brawn (who oversees Tolkien publishing at HarperCollins), while not divulging sales figures, says that

are . . . two of the best-selling backlist ebooks
on the market . . . Tolkien's books are once again
experiencing a period of growth as we approach
the 2012 HOBBIT movie . . . while ebook sales are
increasing, so are the sales of the physical books",

concluding that while for some authors ebook sales come at the expense of their tradition books, this does not seem to be the case with Tolkien, whose ebooks seem to be selling both to those who already had the book as well as new readers -- "which is good news for the author".

--BEYOND BREE, current issue, p. 8

So, taken in conjunction with my last post about Tolkien having written not one but two of the best-selling books of all time, add in that for the present sales show no sign of slacking; he remains ubiquitous in our culture, for now and hopefully for a long time to come.

--John R.
still in Grand Prairie, Texas

*indeed, some Kindle-only books on Tolkien can be found there now; I'll have to check some of these out to see if any are worthwhile. Some look potentially interesting, while about others I am doubtful. We'll see.


Jason Fisher said...

McFarland told me early on that Tolkien and the Study of His Sources would come out in the usual e-book format(s), but it was still a surprise when the Kindle book finally launched last week. People are buying it too, judging by its rank and from reader comments. I’ve always wondered whether this cuts into traditional book sales (esp. given the differences in price), but it’s good to know this isn’t this case with books by Tolkien at least.

Pax said...

I was really glad to see "Tolkien and the Study of His Sources" is now available as an affordable e-book. With a $40.00 list price on the print edition, it was out of my reach. I got a copy through Inter-library loan. Now I'll be able to purchase!

While on the subject of Kindle books, I really wish Amazon would make it easier for reviewers to indicate which edition they're reviewing. It's time-consuming (and eye-straining) to have to skim reviews for the keywords that denote an e-book. Especially when reading those reviews on a Kindle which doesn't support any sort of word search.