Hello From the Heart readers. Today I welcome guest blogger Eddie Jones, Pencil Box Crew member and one of Diana's authors. He recently blogged in response to the question permeating the industry, Is the publishing industry in a state of demise as we know it?
The obituary of the paper book continues to draw interest but before we bury the printed word let's consider the hype and obstacles of digital delivery.
Last week at the International Coach Federation conference in Orlando Florida I watched as hundreds of attendees waited in line to have books signed by key-note speakers and conference faculty. Where do you put the author’s autograph on an e-book and does a hand written note from Sarah Palin mean as much in a Kindle as it does in a hardback?
Today I waited in line at Borders to purchase an Eagles DVD. Yes, I could have grabbed a boot-leg copy online but I value Glen, Joe and Don’s music so I was willing to pay them for their art. However, most of the customers in line cradled books. Several in fact. I checked and almost all were being bought as gift. How do you give the latest Pat Conroy novel as an e-book? Where does the bow, go?
My wife doesn’t buy books. She borrows them from the library. When publishers convert to e-books will libraries offer digital downloads and if so, how? Will my wife have to take her e-reader to the library to check out the book or will she download it from the library’s web site?
The evolving nature of consumer electronics and growing influence of the web drive expectations to dizzying heights. Disposable media, like the newspapers and magazines that end up in the recycle bucket, will migrate to the e-reader platform. Such products are ideal for e-readers. Text books, too.
But fiction and non-fiction books live beyond their publication date. Readers “participate” in a book. They paint their own scenes, adding the furniture of their lives to make the story their own. They pause mid-act to nap, exit the subway or board a plane. With non-fiction they highlight, underline and dog-ear pages for reference. E-books cluttered with hyperlinks, ads, video and sound do not enhance the reading experience. They detract from it.
Consider the browser wars that have plagued the web since its birth. Will publishers spend money to create multiple versions of its product in order to reach all types of e-readers? Or will they pick a winner and hope for the best. Few know the brand of the printing press that publishes the morning paper, but with e-publications technology will trump content.
From 1997 to 2001 the World Wide Web went from a fringe concept (prior to 1996 most companies didn’t even have a web site) to the dominant fixture in our culture. In four years the web revolutionized the media, (AOL purchased Time Warner), the recording industry, (Napster provided easy, free and illegal access to music) and the way we get our news and stay in touch. (You’ve got mail!)
Amazon released their first Kindle in November 19, 2007. Citi analyst Mark Mahaney estimates that Amazon sold 500,000 of its first e-reader. Amazon predicts it will sell 800,000 by the end of this year. In contrast, Sarah Palin's memoir, released this fall, has sold 1 million copies and HarperCollins plans to increase the print run to 2.8 million copies. That’s one book using old technology that doesn't require batteries, specialized formatting or training. The e-reader isn’t a trend. It’s a niche fad pushed with hype and hope.
I was in a Family bookstore last night picking up last minute gifts and bought myself three books for three dollars. How does one browse and make impromptu purchase like that with an e-book? E-readers may change the way we read periodicals, but it’s doubtful they will replace books.
Consumers will use e-readers to keep abreast of news, current trends and culture gossip. When it comes time to pick a book for entertainment, though, they’ll choose paper. We always have. Odds are we will for a very long time.
Thank you Eddie, I say Amen to the paper book sticking around. Of course as an agent it is in my best interest for it to do so- but long before my agent career, I have read and acquired paper books. They are my treasures, friends and counselors. This Christmas, I have wrapped many up for gifts. And the bow looked great afixed to the wrapped book.
Merry Christmas to you all.