Today the Book Boost welcomes guest author Amy Talbot!
Reinventing the Book
Despite recent hype, is e-publishing a viable alternative to print publishing?
The emergence of electronic publishing (e-publishing, e-books and e-book readers) in the late 1990’s was supposed to reshape the conventional boundaries of publishing. Yet, is our tendency to publish on paper enduring in spite of the Internet and the development of digital delivery?
Some sectors have zealously embraced the e-publishing revolution. In the business world, electronic delivery is set to be the exclusive means of delivery. In fact, Daniel Gross’ recent exclusive e-book release Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation was an instant e-publishing hit; instant being the operative word.
Gross is a renowned journalist who writes for the New York Time’s Economic View column. What’s not widely known is the path his book took from conception to publication. In October 2008, Gross made a handshake deal with Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. He finished the book in February 2009. Two weeks later, Dumb Money went on sale, priced at a paltry US$12. Within days, Free Press had clocked up e-sales in the thousands.
The success of Dumb Money made the real advantages of releasing an e-book exclusive patently obvious. With the right tools and publicity, e-books have the potential of becoming overnight successes. By comparison, the usual delay for the paper medium, from delivered manuscript to publication, is a lengthy two year stretch. It takes another six months minimum to earn back royalties and start making money, whereas e-authors have money in the bank far sooner.
In science, technical and medical publishing, the trend toward online access appears unstoppable. ‘Open access’ is the name given to the process of making the information from all the scientific journals available to all.
The scientific and business communities aren’t the only areas to whole-heartedly embrace digital downloads. The power of the search engine makes information available worldwide. In fact, an estimated 50% of magazine and news agents deliver their content electronically.
The Association of American Publishers reports that January 2009 sales of e-books rose a staggering 170% over the previous year. Yet, those sales represented a measly US$8.8 million of the US$785 million in overall book sales. While the business and scientific sectors are singing in the choir, fiction, it seems, is dragging its chain and showing a marked reluctance to embrace change.
But not for much longer. Like Allan Boon fifty years ago, romance e-Publishers have been quick to envisage the potential of marketing inexpensive genre fiction novels via e-book technology. Other publishers mocked Boon’s vision and stuck to deep literary works. He proved them wrong and turned a modest publishing house into a household name with the Mills and Boon imprint. Today romance novels account for 60-70% of all books sold per annum globally – which equates to a whooping US$780 million.
Change is afoot in the more popular segments of the e-book market as many mainstream romance publishers offer e-books. The more established romance-focused e-publishers have obtained big-chain bookstore distribution for the titles they take to print.
The e-publishing industry is small now, but it’s not going to stay that way. Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com said: “Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books–astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.” (7/20/2010).
What do the rising sales figures mean for e-Published authors? “The room to grow is exponential. Genres and niches that get limited shelf space in the brick and mortar book world are perfectly suited for the digital book world” (Guy LeCharles Gonzalez; eBook vs. Hardcover: Beyond the Headlines)
Skeptics ask: Will anyone actually want to curl up with an electronic device for an evening of literary comfort? Millions already do! The younger generation is completely interactive. Over thirty percent of teenagers communicate internationally and they have created a whole new global language.
If in doubt, then look at the phenomenal success of the Kindle and iPad, the most successful electronic book-reading tablets to date. A few years back many predicted that CDs would never replace vinyl, and later that MP3s would never replace CDs. The trend towards digital music has been steady and unstoppable.
Will the same thing happen to the publishing industry as books become digital? If the trend continues, with better devices promising longer battery life and better screen resolution, digital books will be a force to be reckoned with.
E-book publishing is definitely the look of the future. Allan Boon made popular fiction available to everyone, just in the same way e-books are available at the click of a computer button. Sound + sight + smell + taste + touch = e-books.
Some of the advantages offered by digital publishing:
Ease of access: We can access thousands of books, newspapers and magazines instantaneously online, with a single click. Special praise goes to Project Gutenberg, which has made 100,000 titles available electronically – all free.
Ease of carrying: As the technology improves, you will soon be able to carry a copy of your entire library in your bag (and have a back-up at home), just as you now carry your music collection in your pocket.
Price: The reasonable price of digital books reflects the real costs of production — no expensive printing, no shipping across country or storing in warehouses.
Do more than turn a page: E-book readers offer a long list of perks, including a dictionary, text search, bookmarks, clippings, MP3 music playback and a range of font sizes. Some e-book readers even read the script.
Environmentally friendly: No trees die to furnish paper for e-books.
A Note from the Book Boost: What a great summary of the print versus electronic industry! As an author of both print books and e-books, I found this very interesting indeed. Thanks for chatting with us today and won't you please tell us a little more about your books?
Book One: The Rajah’s Chosen Bride
Is love strong enough to heal old wounds.
The day she buries her grandfather, Australian grade-school teacher Vania di Bergolo finds he has arranged her marriage to Indian business mogul, Devendra Jain. She’s appalled at the proposition. How could her grandfather barter her to the highest bidder? Despite her aversion to marrying a complete stranger, Vania agrees to the betrothal, but demands the marriage be in name only.
Deven is incensed when he finds out about the arrangement. Vania is a thoroughly modern western woman, and they share nothing in common. He has stayed determinedly single from choice, planning to take a wife from his own people when he is ready. Now, thanks to the secret scheming of two old men, and the sweet, innocent smile of a foreigner, his stubbornly held bachelor existence is set to change dramatically.
Book Two: Diamonds and Deceit
Available in August from Eternal Press!
Is the treasure they seek the one they truly want
André Castile makes a fatal mistake that leads to the theft of the Queen of Hearts, a priceless heirloom necklace he values above all else. Driven by revenge, André tracks the Queen of Hearts to the alpine heartland of New Zealand, and to Grace Summerfield.
André is determined to uncover the past she tries so hard to conceal. The search for the Queen of Hearts, and for the truth, propels André and Grace on a deadly journey through the untamed high country. Fear and danger stalk them at every turn. What will they do, how far will they go?which lines will they cross?to find what matters most? What will it ultimately cost them find out what is real, and what is just a shoddy approximation?
Amy Talbot lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband of thirty years. She is a freelance editor, has written professionally for fifteen years, and has published romance novels, numerous short stories, and magazine and newspaper articles. Amy has a post-graduate Diploma in Publishing, is a freelance editor and also the Creative Writing tutor for Aoraki Polytechnic.