He got to keep his ebook rights and can price them however he sees fit. Good for him!!
Why is this such a big deal? Well, it proves the big six is finally willing to think outside the box. Previously, they have always grabbed all the rights they can on a book. It's lead to them pricing ebooks out of the market and even occasionally having their print books listed at under the price of the ebooks -- just a few short months after the titles release.
The old model of "three months to sell" and then your title is rotated by bookstores off of shelf space, still exists. But for small authors with a strong Internet presence, a low price on an ebook, and the dogged determination to sell their little hearts out, it has been proven they can reach more readers over the long term than the big guys can short term.
Take my own July sales figures posted a few weeks back as an example. Sales slowed down quite a bit in August, but they by no means suck. If I had been signed by a big name I'd have more book store presence, sure (compared to right now, which is nil). When considering the Industry's unwillingness to pour money into an untried author, I'd still be doing what I'm doing. My agent informed me I'd be selling just as hard with the big six as I have been without them.
No book tours for the little guy means we need to sell from our computer terminal. We blog, we tweet, we post on FB, some even do book trailers on youtube and live readings in podcasts -- the numerous ways to reach readers is more diverse now than it was just five years ago.
Would I accept a large print deal that allowed me to keep my ebook rights? You betcha. I'd sign that puppy in a heart beat. I don't think the publishing giants will ever fall, like so many others have predicted. Their reach in print distribution far outweighs the number of people who own ereaders -- especially in foreign markets.
Print won't ever die, but I do think the coming years will weed out the small and large publishers who don't think outside the box, like Simon and Schuster has. If I bust my hump building my readership and hand selling almost every ecopy of my book, why should I give that hard work up?
I may not be anywhere near selling what Mr. Locke is. But give me a few more titles under my belt and then we'll talk ;-)
~~ C.J. Ellisson ~~