The Age of the Ebook
Without a doubt, eBooks are going to change forever the way we read books. The birthing pains of this fledgling industry are a clear indication as to the importance attached to the potential of this market.
The giants of the computing world are taking on the traditional publishing world head on in a battle for the future of the way we read.
Barnes & Nobel and Microsoft are becoming embroiled in a legal dispute over alleged infringements of Microsoft’s intellectual rights in the creation of Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook reader.
Internet giant Google has recently been blocked by the US courts from reaching a deal with publishers over its Google Books platform. The courts felt that the deal, six years in the making, would give Google an unfair advantage in the market. Meanwhile Google shrugs its corporate shoulders and presses forwards with its plans for the sale of ebooks online.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s kindle was reputed to be the fastest selling item in its inventory over Christmas and has sold over 8 million units in the last twelve months. Amazon reports that it delivers 66% of all ebooks. For the first time, sales of ebooks over the Christmas period outsold physical books. Amazon are also currently in talks with Apple over plans to put Apps on the Kindle further widening its appeal.
As bricks and mortar bookshops continue to collapse ebooks sales are growing exponentially. It doesn’t take Nostradamus to see which way this is going. What is more problematical in all this for authors though is how best to position oneself to make the most of this new market.
The main problem facing a new writer used to be the ‘Slush Pile’ and how to stand out in it. If present trends continue the world is going to drown in a sea of ebooks and the problem remains: How to stand out and get noticed? The days of ‘Build it and they will come’ are long gone for the world of books.
Perversely, it may be the publishing industry which holds the key. New, leaner independent publishers are starting to come through. Some of these companies are highly effective in not only publishing high quality ebooks but also in their marketing. This is a challenging time for all writers but also an exciting one. Choosing a publisher who understands these emerging markets is critical. Selling a book is no longer achieved by simply sending a boxful to the local bookshop and hoping for the best. It now involves websites, review sites, viral marketing, a good Amazon presence and cross platform presentation.
I live in the Pacific NW, the home of Amazon. I’ve heard more negative stories about Amazon than I can shake a stick of dynamite at and still they’re the biggest bully on the market. I grew up dreaming of the day the box would come to my house and 20 copies of MY BOOK would be inside. Dreaming of the chaos that I knew I would quickly regret as I did book signings in bookstores across the country. ebooks have destroyed that dream, who wants to sign a kindle? Granted, dreams are easily broken in this industry, the price of progress. So how does one accept, if not embrace the concept of never having that hard copy sitting on the shelf, well loved and worn from re-reading and “go electronic” to get my stories published?