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Articles tagged with: digital publishing


A Wild Ride in Publishing

Hang on, everybody! We're in for a wild ride. The publishing industry is changing so rapidly, the information you find online today may be obsolete tomorrow. It's exhilarating, terrifying, mind-boggling, intimidating, confusing, and very, very exciting!

The good news is:

-Most experts think books will continue to thrive in both print and digital formats. More options for readers and greater accessibility (ordering from your bed at midnight) is increasing the number of books people read. Sales are strong.

-Print-on-demand will allow mid-list and out-of-print books to continue to sell, and will help eliminate huge print runs of books that don't sell and must be stored, remaindered, and destroyed – a practice that was terrible for the environment and a royal pain for booksellers and publishers.

-With 50 pages or so available in downloadable free samples, we'll all waste less money on books we thought we'd love after reading the first few pages in the bookstore, but lost interest in after a chapter or two.

-Niche books that never saw print because of a limited market will be available to those with an specific interest.

-Lower prices will result from savings in shipping and storing costs, and e-books currently offer authors a greater share in the profits.

-New vetting processes will emerge for self-publishers – reputable reviewers offering readers a "clearing house" for navigating the huge numbers of digital uploads they'll be wading through. Customer reviews online and book bloggers will remain a driving force in word-of-mouth sales of books.

In a city where many start-up companies have been birthed, I'm all in. I'm convinced that the emergence of new technology will benefit the reader in the long run. In the meantime, it's much more productive to welcome the new baby than to bitch about the birthing pains. And as for e-books, don't say "never" if you've never tried one. You can always download the Kindle or Nook app to your computer or phone. Then if you download a few free sample chapters from Amazon or Nook, you can give it a try without spending a penny.

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Posted in October, 2010


Let it Simmer

Tim O'Brien reminded us of an important writing practice in his chat with Mediabistro on Monday. On the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Things They Carried, he worries that the ease of digital publication in blogs, online articles and even books, will adversely affect the quality of writing. He fears it's too tempting to "push the button" and launch freshly written prose that hasn't had time to marinate. Whether you're writing an angry letter to your boss or the first three chapters of your new novel, it's always a good idea to "let it simmer." Most of us have had the experience of revisiting a piece we once thought quite brilliant and discovering that it's mostly crap. When you're caught up in a burst of creative energy, it's easy to overestimate your own originality. Always, always let your work in progress sit for at least a couple of days and preferably a couple of weeks until you can read it with an objective eye that is not influenced by the heat of the moment.

And if you haven't read The Things They Carried, it's an amazing look at war and its effect on the human psyche. One of my favorite writing assignments was asking my students to write an informal journal entry on "The Things I Carry." Through the years I read the most amazing pieces that ranged from discussions of how the contents of one's purse define its owner to thoughtful discussions of the emotional baggage we carry from our life experiences and how those biases shape our actions and relationships. If you take the time to try it, you might learn something new about yourself. And don't forget to let it simmer, then revise it.

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Posted in March, 2010


E-books v. Tree-books

Much has been written about e-book pricing. Proponents of the $9.99 pricing Kindle offered until recently argue that publishers should be able to still make money at that rate because they're saving the cost of paper, printing, and shipping. It seems logical, I know, but the New York Times today discusses why five of the six largest publishers justify their $12.99 to $14.99 ebook prices. (Thanks, Drew, for the link.) According to these publishers, printing, storing, and shipping only accounts for about $3.25 for each book. I confess that math is not my forte, so I'll leave you to read the breakdown the Times gives for the cost of books.

Honestly, one of the most compelling arguments for the increase, in my mind, is that print booksellers won't be able to compete with e-books priced at $9.99. That price difference is certainly what lead me to buy about a dozen books to read on my iPhone, (which is surprisingly satisfying, despite the small size. Scrolling is so easy you get used to changing pages quickly and being able to adjust text size and highlight are plusses too.) It was a little hard for me to justify spending $15 for a paperback when I could get the e-book for $10 - and often at the same time the $26 hardback came out. Add to that the beauty of deciding you want a new book at midnight and downloading it in bed within ten seconds. Yeah, I LOVE browsing in bookstores, but I'm gonna need some financial incentive to continue to do so. Maybe leveling the playing field with the $14.99 pricing is a good idea if we want book stores to survive and thrive.

Just wondering how many of you read e-books and what your thoughts are about pricing. Before we all get too worked up about it, we do need to remember that digital books currently make up only 3% of book sales at the moment. I do look for that to increase, but hopefully, bookstores aren't going anywhere any time soon. At least in Huntsville this weekend, the bookstore culture was alive and well, I'm glad to say.

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Posted in March, 2010