By Caralee Adams, freelance writer.
Jason C. McDonald wrote the first draft of his latest mystery using a manual typewriter.
“It forces you to think about the flow of writing in a different way than when you can’t easily erase something,” says the author and owner of AJ Charleson Publishing LLC. “It can take a story in a very unexpected — and great — direction.”
McDonald may be old school in his approach to crafting a novel, but he is innovative in how he is trying to connect with readers.
The Idaho writer has long been a fan of the Internet Archive and its vast amount of newspapers, magazines, and recordings for research. So when it came to getting exposure for his books, McDonald wanted to give back to the collection.
McDonald recently contributed three copies of books published by his small company that he formed in 2018 to the Internet Archive. A digital version of his books, Finding Scrooge and Noah Clue, P.I., along with a book, Love’s Refining Fire, by Anne McDonald, Jason’s mother, are now available through Controlled Digital Lending. He shared the news of the free digital availability of his titles on Twitter and in a banner on the company website.
“I really support libraries and Internet Archive’s lending program is basically an international library. It spans borders,” says McDonald. “The whole purpose is to get these resources into the hands of people that need them in a way that is controlled — and it’s free.”
McDonald is a computer programmer by day and author who is chipping away on four manuscripts now on nights and weekends. He’s just getting started with his independent publishing company and would like to expand. Yet, it’s a struggle to get the word out about his print books. McDonald lists his titles in buyers’ catalogues, promotes them at book signings and relies on word of mouth marketing.
“Especially here in COVID era, we aren’t going to bookstores. People want to be able to read part of a book first to get an idea of what it’s like,” says McDonald. “Buying a print-only book sight unseen is an odd idea to some people.”
The Archive also provides readers of its digitized online books a chance to easily purchase a copy through Better World Books, an affordable alternative to Amazon and an avenue to help amplify sales for less well-known authors. Having his works circulating digitally through the Internet Archive will give the public a chance to read part — or all — of his books and then make an informed decision about whether they want to buy it.
“It’s the same logic as with a library. It increases the visibility of a book,” McDonald says of CDL. “I think in the end, it drives sales because you are finding readers you wouldn’t normally have. Those readers aren’t getting a copy that they keep forever — it’s a copy that’s going to lead them to want to own it.”
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“I think in the end, [Controlled Digital Lending] drives sales because you are finding readers you wouldn’t normally have. Those readers aren’t getting a copy that they keep forever — it’s a copy that’s going to lead them to want to own it.”
This is exactly right. Just the same as a library, CDL enables readers to discover books as well as authors which the readers might never have discovered. Were it not for the library, the reader would have to purchase a book solely based on proxy indicators such as word of mouth, reviews, the back-cover blurb, and whether the reader enjoyed a limited preview offered by the publisher. I think that books are still purchased this way, but with the changes to the average consumer’s budget wrought by the response to COVID-19 and recessions in recent years, I would imagine that fewer consumers are purchasing books via the proxy method. I, for one, no longer purchase books without being sure that I like the book.
Through the Internet Archive’s Open Library, I have discovered literally dozens of books that I will be purchasing as funds permit. Several books are from small publishing companies I have never heard of. Most are written by authors I have never heard of. Only about 10% of the books that I want to purchase are still in print by the respective publishers. For a few of the books, I have searched global library holdings using Worldcat and invariably I find that no local library carries a copy; often the closest physical library is hundreds of miles away.
I have not fully read any book through Open Library, with a single exception: a book that my local library had three copies of, inaccessible to me because the library was closed as a result of COVID-19. I am borrowing books from the Open Library for select research purposes and to evaluate whether I would like to purchase my own physical copy of the book.
At least for me, Mr. McDonald’s statement is 100% accurate.
This is a great development.
I agree that the CDL allows readers to read books
And also get to know writers that readers never knew
If it were not for this library, the reader would have to review the book solely on the basis of his or her own knowledge
The ambiguity of the back cover or whether the reader has a limited preview provided by the publisher.
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