Tech and Books, Books and Tech, Mortal Enemies

a couple of links today. The firstis an excellent blog entry from Nick Bilton regarding the publishing industry’s backward approach towards e-publishing. Nick tackles the publishing industry’s decision to back up e-book sales in fear that it harming their hardcover sales. Is this line familiar? If you followed the music industry’s fight against file sharing it should be. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you have probably noted that I am very e-friendly and have at least hinted towards where i think the publishing industry, and e-literature, needs and will go. And I agree with pretty much everything Nick says in his blog.

What amazes me is how similar the fears and reactions are between the way the publishing industry is approaching e-commerce and the way the recording industry approached it (and got beaten like a mule).  If I’m a big book publisher, I am going over what the recording industry did and attempting to do just the opposite. Instead of running from the concept of selling literature online, look for ways to make it more lucrative. Look for ways to package other stuff with it that might be enticing to readers while also cost effective. Maybe even open up  a whole new division dedicated to publishing new authors ONLY online where the costs of the publishing can be more tightly controlled and publicity more easily attainable.  Once an author has established an audience through cheaper e-lits (maybe with novellas and short stories) then move on to publishing that author’s first novel in hardcover.  suddenly you have an affordably created audience for a first time author and stand a better chance of not losing your hat over publishing the guy.

In other words, e-lit can be the new paperback. Where writers once cut their teeth selling gobs of paperbacks before getting a hardcover release, they can now sell billions of bits.  There could be a whole new world for writers here if publishers would only go with it rather than try to fight it.

the second blog is from chris dawson at  zdnet. He steps into the e-reader fray with an angle on Stephen Covey’s recent choice to sign an exclusive deal with amazon to release his books only for the Kindle.  He’s against the closed format for e-readers, pushing for an open format that would open up the e-publishing world for everyone to take part in.

The scary thing is his comparison to how Apple’s Iphone effectively cornered the cell phone market because of the ridiculous amount of exclusive apps it offers is quite possible. If any one company can convince a great number of high-selling authors to sign only with them, it would effectively cut the e-reader and e-literature markets off at the knees. Regardless of how powerful or versatile a tablet PC from Apple might be, no one will buy it as a reader if they can’t download the newest Stephen King or Nora Roberts book to it.

But I think money will keep it from happening. While Amazon can entice an author here or there right now, authors/agents aren’t dumb and they know that once the e-lit market takes off, there will be more money made from whoever can sell to the biggest audience. Which points to an open format that can be read on a variety of devices.

also, there is the simple force of ego. Writers (and I know, I kinda am one, albeit an unpaid one) like to be read. the idea of limiting their audience can’t be overly appealing.  While there will always be someone taking the largest payday out there, and I don’t blame them at all for it, I think a lot of writers would rather sacrifice a couple of bucks if it means they greatly enhance their exposure.

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One Response to “Tech and Books, Books and Tech, Mortal Enemies”

  1. Los Angeles Computer Says:

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