A Librarian And His Ebook

Michael Parry is the Digital Initiatives Coordinator at Victoria University of Wellington Library and has just published his first novel and ebook, The Spiral Tattoo. With ebook sales surging and library ebook lending becoming increasingly competitive, Michael seems to be in the middle of a very sweet spot. I interviewed Michael to learn more.

Tell us about your book The Spiral Tattoo
The Spiral Tattoo was first released as a podiobook* and has just been released as an ebook. The story follows two guards, Elanore a Troll, and Gurt an Eleniu (fairy) as they investigate the murder of a waitress in a strip club. The blurb we are running goes like this:

“Law comes in two sizes: six inches and eight feet.

Elanore, the eight-foot tall troll, and Gurt, the six-inch tall (don’t you dare call me a fairy) Eleinu, both guardsmen in the city of Delvenport, tackle their most baffling case yet. When they find a dead waitress, naked except for an intricate tattoo in a spiral across her body, they’re launched into an adventure in the seedier side of Delvenport, filled with rogue mages, prostitution, and narcotics.

But can they solve the case before madness and riots take over the city?”

It is a bit of a mixed bag as I mix several genres (fantasy/urban fantasy/ murder mystery/ hard boiled investigating) and play with a number of stereotypes particularly in the fantasy setting.

Who would you recommend The Spiral Tattoo to?
I’d recommend the book to anybody who likes mysteries or fantasies. Also anybody who likes a bit of humour in their stories, and isn’t looking for something deep and meaningful.  It’s a bit of a romp.

How would you describe your book in 140 characters or less?
Not being a natural salesperson, I shall give it a go…“Murder, magic, mystery and mayhem all rapped up with an erudite troll and an irascible fairy searching for clues, and only US$2.99”.

How long did The Spiral Tattoo take to write?
The first draft took about seven weeks, followed by three weeks to edit before we podcast. It took another four weeks to edit for the ebook publication.

Why did you choose to publish an ebook rather than a printed book?
I had been searching for a while to find a publisher willing to take a bet on the story, and I was getting ready to publish it myself in ebook format only. Even though I would love to see it in paper what’s more important is to have it out there and being read. With ebooks taking off it’s nice to hook into that wave.  That being said; even though it is being released as an ebook initially, the publisher I am with (a new publishing venture) is looking to raise money to fund printing paper copies. The costs are vastly increased in printing versus electronic editions. I have high hopes it will be available in paper by the end of the year.

Do you have any thoughts on the future of books or publishing?
I think that in the future “mass market” publishing will be predominantly in electronic format. I think the hardcopy print market will return to being a specialised market for collectors and bibliophiles.

What advice would you give to libraries with ebook collections?
The short: Buy lots and make them free!

The long: I wish it were as simple as the short. There are many difficulties, from DRM to differing formats, in providing ebook content as well as many possibilities. Many libraries are opting to follow the service model of Overdrive to work around some of those issues which is alright as far as it goes. That path limits you to what is provided via that service. With the burgeoning independent ebook market there are a lot of quality ebooks that won’t make their way into library collections which is a shame. This is a space that will need a lot of attention and thought.

Where and how can libraries purchase it?
It can be purchased from Amazon as a kindle ebook or from Smashwords in multiple formats. There are versions for all ebook devices and it costs just US$2.99. 🙂

Michael can be contacted at michael@michaeljparry.com.

* The term podiobook was coined by Evo Terra to describe serialized audiobooks which are distributed via RSS, much like a podcast (from podiocast.com).