Friday, 13 February 2009

The future of publishing - Don't ignore ebooks

The TOC conference has ignited a lively debate regarding the future of ebooks. This debate has moved on rapidly over the last few months.

Here’s a summary of the key points:
  1. eBooks will play a part in the future of publishing and reading.
  2. Readers will be offered an increasing choice of format (ebook, paperback, audio etc).
  3. The war of the ereader will be between a dedicated device (Kindle) or multi-function device (iphone/ipod).
  4. The software on the reader will play a big part.
  5. Publishers/writers will be resistant to any boom in digital sales until the royalty situation for digital books is resolved.
If you are looking to get up to speed with these points then here’s some great reading:
Personally I would add a couple of thoughts to the argument.

The first is regarding delivery of ebooks. Anyone that has used an iphone/ipod will be aware of the iTunes app system. This in essence means the user can download applications, music etc from iTunes at the touch of a screen. Very simple and well suited to books. So is iTunes the delivery method of ebooks in the future? Possibly, but we can’t forget Amazon. These digital giants have the biggest database of readers in the world. This linked with reading trends and digital knowhow make them a sleeping giant in the ebook would.

The second point is aimed directly at writers. I would say that it makes no difference whether a writer believes ebook sales will be significant. They simply can’t take a chance. So my advice is before you sign your next book deal, look very carefully at the clause regarding digital print and think very carefully about how this could affect your royalty income in the future is digital book become big sellers.