Monday, March 17, 2008

The E-volution of Publishing

A nice article about epublishing on eMuse-zine:

The E-volution of Publishing: The Pros, Cons and Misconceptions of Epublishing

By Jacquéline Roth

The moment has finally come. The house is quiet. No one will disturb you now for at least an hour. You brew that perfect cup of your favorite tea or coffee and curl up in your favorite chair. The lighting is ideal and the anticipation as you prepare to sink deep into the escape provided by your favorite author grows. You press the power button and the screen lights up and you begin to read.

Had ya up ‘til that last part, huh? Imagine being able to enjoy your favorite books any time, to carry them with you everywhere you go with out the hassle and weight of carrying multiple paperbacks or hardbacks around with you. Ebooks.

For those unfamiliar with them, electronic books are not just copies of someone’s manuscript being hocked on a questionable website. They are not a fad. Just as you can carry your daily organizer, phone, stereo system and computer around with you in your purse or pocket, you can now carry your library. From clay tablets to papyrus to scrolls to leather bound books to paperbacks, the format of the written word has changed throughout human history. And it’s changing again. What was originally met with skepticism and dismissal by publishers and readers alike has become the next step in the natural evolution of publishing that has exploded in popularity among those same readers and publishers.

Brenna Lyons, President of EPIC (Electronic Publishing Internet Connection) an organization that represents readers, authors and publishers of ebooks, says there are good reasons for the acceptance being enjoyed more and more by ebooks. Lyons sites issues such as ease of storage, lower costs, longer shelf lives of books as well as privacy and ease of purchase. According to Lyons, ebooks even get a doctor’s stamp of approval, “PDA’s and e-ink screens are actually better for your eyes than a computer screen or a paper book. Ophthalmologists actually suggest these readers to their vision-impaired patients.” Most ereaders (ebook display devices) have adjustable contrast screens and adjustable print fonts. “Many programs like ReadPlease and Adobe Reader can turn your ebooks into audio books.” Lyon’s also jokingly notes that ebooks could be considered hypoallergenic in that they do away with the dust and book dust that bother some.

The publishing companies, including the big boys in New York, are also succumbing to the attractions of epublishing. For publishers and authors the appeal of ebooks are undeniable. An electronic book is a much less expensive book. The editing and cover costs remain, many ebooks have beautiful award winning covers. But the overhead cost of printing, binding, storing, shipping and refunding paper books can be massive and do not exist with the ebook. Early forays by the NY publishers into epublishing were limited, but Lyons and many epublishers believe that now that the indies have worked out the kinks in the system, NY is jumping into the loop with a passion, especially in the romance, erotica and science fiction genres.

Even authors enjoy a distinct advantage in the world of epublishing. Deanna Lee, Publisher of Cobbleston Press—one of a handful of indie publishers that has put romance and romantic erotica at the forefront of the epublishing revolution—sees great advantages for the author. “Epublishers can take risks that print publishers can’t because our overhead is low. At Cobblestone, the wait time on submissions is less than ninety days and the time frame from contract to publication is currently less than six months –so those two points are pretty attractive all on their own for writers.”

EPIC’s 2008 ARIANA Winners Ebook Cover Art

EPIC President Lyons states that while New York editors and agents are welcoming of those with epublishing credits, giving them the respect and credibility they deserve, it is not all a matter of warm hugs and Kumbaya for epublishers and epublished authors. “To be honest, I’ve seen more snark and dismissal from certain old-school writers’ organizations (surprisingly the romance ones are more accepting these days than the science fiction/fantasy ones, which seems odd, considering the technology we’re embracing) and from individual New York published authors.” Lyons went on to say that these people are “few and far between.”

While Gorlinsky and Lyons disagreed on the reception of ebooks in the science fiction genre, both noted that the willingness to embrace ebooks seems to be highest among romance readers. Romance, whose figures also include women’s erotica, is the highest selling genre worldwide. In the US, while romance readers are often subjected to unflattering stereotypes, studies show they are the most prolific of readers, show the most author loyalty and are the most discriminating.

Every epublished author, it seems, has a story to tell you about an encounter with a print published colleague or a reader who refuse to read their work in e-format. “When are you going to write a real book?” or “I’ll just wait ‘til it comes out in print,” top the list of demeaning questions and comments that frustrate authors.

This is an attitude that isn’t isolated and ebooks are still not an easy sell to the American public. Recent polls show that less than one third of readers have tried an ereader and over half of those polled said they wouldn’t want to. But what the poll did reveal was that among those who had tried ereaders, especially those who reported themselves as high volume readers reading at least one book per week, the level of acceptance of the epublished books skyrocketed.

Acceptance aside, once a reader embraced ebooks, one of the issues in the beginning was the availability of reading devices. The pool of readers who wanted to sit at their computers or laptops and read their books was small. But into this void stepped Sony, Franklin and most recently These high end readers offer a variety of bells and whistles, including a wireless connection from Amazon’s Kindle. Readers can now think of a book and have it downloaded onto their reader in minutes, ready to read. The main problem is that these devices go for a big chunk of change. Fortunately the increasing popularity of PDA devices and the introduction of less expensive readers by Ebookwise and Franklin have eased some of the problem.

Variety used to be an issue as well, but a visit to Amazon’s website shows us that a large percentage of their books are available as electronic books. In fact, many new releases and most mass market paperbacks are available for download. Fitting with Lyon’s observation about the epublishing acceptance within the romance genre, legendary Harlequin Romance has also begun offering their entire catalogue as ebooks. Add to this distributors such as and the indie publishers’ websites and there is a huge assortment of books available.

And there are even more reasons for writers and the readers to “go e.”

1 comment:

john said...

Thanks for sharing the valuable information. In these days, most of the publishers are presenting their publication in digital format as the online readership rate is increasing dramatically. So digitization becomes a revenue generation tool for the publishers. Companies like helping publishers in distribution through various innovative new technology mediums.