That could be the entire post, really.

For context, this morning I was reading a cool post by Courtney Milan about estimating the value of your book’s rights. In it, she compares the value of a hypothetical trad contract vs. what you’d earn self-publishing it. Overall, it’s a very reasonable piece that isn’t about banner-waving for one side or the other, but is rather about assessing the money value of either option so you can make the best decision about which route to take.

The problem, sort of, is that she compares both examples over a 35-year span. On the one hand, when you’re talking about book contracts that can for last decades beyond your death–although she points out the rather neat fact that all authors can reclaim their rights after 35 years–it’s perfectly valid to assess the long-term pros and cons about signing such a contract.

On the other hand… who knows how things are going to look 5 years from now, let alone 35.

So, given that the future of the book industry and ebooks in particular is so unknowable, there’s an argument to be made that up-front money–i.e. an advance–should be weighted more heavily than long-term royalty projections. Which isn’t to say I think Courtney’s wrong; her projections sound very reasonable, and thus helpful in reaching a decision about what to do with your book. This is just something to think about.

Anyway, over the course of discussing the ongoing chaos that is present-day publishing, I went to look at how many new ebooks are currently being published. Late last December, I noted there were 1.8 million titles in the Kindle store. Checking the numbers today, there are just over 2.1 million.

300,000 new titles in a little under 8 months.

Prorate that for the rest of 2013, and that’s roughly 472,000 new books.

1293 every day.

54 per hour.

A new ebook is being published to Amazon almost every minute.

I don’t have any particularly strong insight into this. Besides maybe “Holy shit.” But, to circle back to long-term projections, if books continued to be published at the current rate, then 35 years from now, the Kindle store would contain about 18,620,000 books. Nearly nine times as many titles as are available today.

Or not, because 35 years from now, there may well not be a “Kindle” store. I have no earthly idea.

For the record, I’ll readily admit that “Oh man I have no idea how to even begin to approach this” is far less useful than “Here is one method to help you assess the value of your book rights in regards to whether to sell them to a publisher or maintain them for yourself.”

I think Courtney has laid out a very good process for decision-making. It’s a great post. But hard numbers can provoke confidence. I would like to use a few other numbers to illustrate how far away publishing in 2013 might be from publishing in 2048: one (book per minute), half a million (per year), nine (times as many as we have now).

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I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.
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