Posts Tagged 'e-books'

Do you love reading or do you love books?

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I listened to a fascinating report by “On the Media” about the status and future of book publishing.

Colin Robinson, of OR Books, claimed that now was a terrible time to be a reader:

…there is a huge overproduction of titles….if you give people a choice between a hundred things, that’s a real choice. If you give them a choice between half a million things, it’s no choice at all.

But Michael Cader, of Publishers Marketplace, argued the exact opposite:

For a reader, it’s boom times. There are more options. There’s price competition, there’s format competition. There’s new ways to read. You can get things delivered faster. They’re accessible online. There’s more voices, there’s more communities to serve you. So for readers, it’s terrific.

Is it possible for them both to be right?

As a reader, I want my books to be entertaining, enlightening and/or well-written. With traditionally published books, there is no guarantee that I will love a book. But there is an implied promise of quality, since the publisher invested time and money in the product. Hopefully, they will want each book to be good enough that I will come back for more. There may be no such promises with self-published titles, and more books in a crowded marketplace might very well make it harder to find the ones I will enjoy.

Maybe. But I’m not fully convinced.

There are always more books I’d like to read than ones I will have time to read. And I’m not one to plunk down large sums of money for the pleasure of one single story. I visit the library, the used bookstore, and read online. I find the price competition of a crowded market appealing.

Also, I like choosing for myself what makes a good read. Take this example. When the author of a blog I like put her self-published book up for sale, I bought it. I knew from reading the blog that I would enjoy her writing. In this case, my interest and my RSS feed made pretty good filters.

But then Brooke Gladstone moved on to this question: Do you love reading or do you love books?

Picking one or the other is almost like a mother admitting she has a favorite child.

If I think about browsing a bookstore, or the many books that litter my small apartment, or the smell of old pages mixed with a summer breeze coming through the window…I’m tempted to fall on the side of books.

But then I manage to be honest with myself. I do nearly half my reading online or on my laptop. I gobble up stories in various formats, some of which look nothing like books. I borrow more books than I buy, and I add very few books to my keeper shelf. In practice, I’m format-agnostic.

I like physical books because they are convenient.

But my love is reading.

So give me print books and digital books. Traditionally published books and self-published books. E-books and video books and enriched books.

I’ll take content in as many ways as I can get it, as long as the story is good.

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An explosion in e-books

I saw this tidbit via Shelf Awareness, which cited Crain’s New York and iReaderReview.com as the sources:

…at Random House, “September 2009 sales (of Kindle e-books) were $22.6 million–a huge increase from a year ago when they were just $2.9 million. The Lost Symbol was a huge part with 100,000 e-book sales in its first week out (5% of total sales). In first half of 2009, Random House Kindle e-book revenue grew 400% from a year ago.”

Usually the e-book numbers are shown only as a percentage, which can be misleading when talking about actual money spent/made. But 2.9 vs. 22.6 million is a big, well-measured jump.

My favorite conclusion from iReaderReview and Shelf Awareness:

The impact of holiday e-book sales offers a “huge opportunity for new companies to become successful publishers.”

I wonder if these new publishing companies will look anything like the ones we see today.

Round-up: Carina Press shakes things up

The press release went out earlier this week, and it seems news of Harlequin’s digital-only imprint is making the rounds. The excitement is contagious.

Daily Finance: Harlequin launches digital-only imprint. Will other big houses feel the romance?
Quill and Quire: Harlequin tries for some online love with digital publishing venture
Galleycat: Angela James to helm digital press at Harlequin
Juno Books: Harlequin launches digital-only publishing house
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Carina Press
Publishers Weekly: James tabbed to run Harlequin’s e-book-only Carina Press
Mobility Site: E-books, content calvalcade
Icarus Publishing asks, “Will Carina Press someday publish manga?” (scroll down)
The Tainted Archive: New imprint seeks writers

And for those who like original sources, Isabel Swift has posted the full press release.

One reporter, from examiner.com said, “Those submitting to Carina Press should be aware that no advances are being offered and, more troubling, there will be no DRM protection. [Emphasis added.]”

Personally, I find the idea of DRM-free books to be just what the customer ordered. Imagine finding new authors to love by borrowing e-books from a friend! Those with concerns may want to read more about the DRM debate on Booksquare, here and here.

In addition to Carina’s potential influence on big publishing’s digital prospects and DRM decisions, the comments at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books raised another question: Will Carina’s launch inspire the Romance Writers of America to embrace digital-only publishers? Might e-book advocates no longer need to host rogue discussions of digital publishing trends?

It seems that RWA will at least think about laying out the welcome mat. Their latest press release, which has no date but uses language that suggests it was released after the word on Carina, says the board will devote a major portion of their upcoming meeting to discussing the “emerging trends” in publishing.

Even with no books yet on the Web site shelves, Carina Press is already changing the game.


DISCLAIMER

I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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