In 2006, Forbes magazine predicted the death of books, to paraphrase Mark Twain, was greatly exaggerated. According to its research, people were reading more, not less.
This bears out in 2008 as well. But in what format will they survive?
In June, Publishers Weekly reported that electronic stories have boosted readership and sales. It specifically mentioned Wild Rose Press, where I have several stories due out soon, as having more success rather than less.
Apparently New York Magazine thinks the bell is already tolling for traditional publishing, as it describes in its article, The End.
But is e-publishing a good deal for authors? An article in Conde Nast’s Portfolio called Engineering the Risk out of Book Publishing explains the idea behind HarperCollins’ new unit, HarperStudio. Not having had a book published (yet!), I have no frame of reference so can’t render any personal pearls of wisdom, but merely pass on what others have said. For instance, author L.J. Sellers sees it as a positive move. Her blog even caught the attention of a HarperCollins exec, who rebutted another’s comment that the move would cheat authors, saying HarperStudios still allows up to $100,000 in advances and pays fifty percent of the net profits.
Delivery systems such as Sony’s E-Reader and Amazon’s Kindle have made e-books portable, further boosting their appeal. And not just for erotica, as Publishers Weekly seems to think.
It certainly seems as if e-books will be a serious competitor, if not overtake, traditional publishing. The Telegraph UK’s 2007 article, Electronic books the future of publishing, states that the Booker Prize Foundation intended to release ebook versions of the shortlisted book titles, though it laments that (as of Oct. 2007) ebook readers had not yet become available in the UK.
In Galleycat’s blog, author Bill Tancer has some intriguing ideas about what data culled from the Internet might reveal to publishers (watch the video).
I’m no expert, but I think nothing can be ruled out, at this point. If readers want more interactive content, as Tancer says, then there are many more avenues for publishers – and authors – to pursue. Some of which are already done today, such as books being remade into video games. So who knows where it will all end up? Stay tuned.