Tuesday, February 2, 2010

E-books, Shooting for the Moon?

I’m baaccccck.

The kids are gearing up for school and as I write this the kitchen table is covered in adhesive book covering.

The topic for this week is books...E Books...You don’t need to cover them for a start.

If you do a quick search on the internet on any topic chances are that someone has written an e-book on your search term.

There are websites selling e-books about writing e-books and how they became millionaires doing just this.

If you are unsure about the whole e-book phenomenon and its place in modern publishing I will attempt to explain it. (remember I’m just back from holiday and for all I know my brain might still be there.)

Electronic books have enabled many people to call themselves authors. Anybody with a word processing program can write a book and post it on the internet. Things get slightly trickier when you ask for payment for the book.

As any author knows writing the content of the book is hard but the make or break for a book is marketing. In the marketing of a book, key decisions on Appearance, Distribution/ Publicity and Price determine whether the book lives or dies

These decisions are not taken lightly in the print and paper world and they should not be taken lightly in the e-book world.

David Meerman Scott has a great article on How to write an e-book on his website webinknow.

Appearance means layout, design, font, cover art these are the bare bones for e-book readability.

Distribution/Publicity can be handled with dedicated websites, advertising, blogging, articles, testimonials all driving viral virtual traffic to the book.

Price is the hot topic in e-book world. This week Apple launched the i-Pad and took its big anticipated step into the e-book reader market. Never mind that the i-Pad is being billed as a big i-Pod without key features like a camera for video or a phone, the e-book readers are now becoming mainstream instead of a geek candy.

Of course if you are going to shell out $499 US for the i-Pad you want to have some thing to read on it. This week the price stoush between Amazon, the worlds biggest e-book store and Macmillan publishers have raised eyebrows as Amazon pulled all Macmillan books in their preemptive strike to force Macmillan to back down on its pricing of e-books alongside their paper books. Macmillan is wanting to sell e-book copies of their print books at very similar prices on the day of print publication. (Amazon backed down last night.)

Richard Curtis predicts that this will be the turning point for publishers and authors.(Royalties of 20-25% tho-it is to dream Richard.)

Opponents of the high price of e-books point out that publishers are not paying for printing, paper warehousing, distribution etcetera on an e-book so the price shouldn’t be so high. Of course the poor author in this probably doesn’t see an increased royalty on an e-book in this model. This then starts the author thinking well maybe I could just publish an e-book myself and get all the profit. If you have a niche that is unprofitable for a mainstream publisher, that could be the best option, investigate it.

Going down this route you need to be aware of DRMs, EPUB and other acronyms to make your brain explode but it could lead you to a whole new earning platform and knowledge is power.

(DRM=digital rights management-buy one download only, no sharing with your friends or other digital media like i-Tunes music tracks....EPUB= dedicated software that converts your content into e-reader format so you can sell it on Amazon, Adobe 6.5plus)

Children’s book authors are still reliant on mainstream publishers as e-books with great graphics interface are still in development but this will change in the next few years with the refinement of e-book readers. (Think picture books like Xbox games on an e-reader.)

2010 the beginning of another decade which will see huge changes in publishing...

Meanwhile in geekdom Obama’s plan to decimate space exploration as a short term cost saver has sent strong signals to their space science community that their government is not behind them.

To put this decision in context Marcel Williams of New Papyrus magazine knocked some figures together when the Augustine commission released its findings in August last year.

Marcel asked-So what should President Obama do?

At the height of the Apollo program, the NASA budget reached$33 billion a year in today's dollars, nearly twice as large as NASA current budget. NASA's $17 billion annual budget represents less 0.6% of the total Federal budget while the US Federal government is spending nearly a trillion dollars annually on defence related purposes. So a $3 billion annual increase to the NASA budget would be extremely tiny relative to the overall Federal budget.

The underline is mine...a trillion dollars- think what that could mean to education, health, the UN food programme....

I personally agree with the comment on the bottom of the cosmos magazine article yesterday.

I predict an upsurge in science fiction writers in India China and Japan as they take the global lead in space exploration and fuel their children’s dreams of space.



Fifi Colston said...

glad you are back! You are making my brain jiggle again!

Maureen said...

I'm pleased to be of service....

Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Also glad to see you back. :-)

"Think picture books like Xbox games on an e-reader." I can't quite picture that. Would the graphics change that drastically? I seem to have decided to get into the children's book publishing game at a rather topsy-turvy time!

Maureen said...

Hi Alison,
One of our top illustrators here in NZ has been working with a digital development company over the last few years on visually interactive books. He showed us at a festival a few years ago and it was amazing. The kids put on goggles and read a book where the illustrations started to move like an animation when they moved a wand over a spot on the page. The goggles provided a 3d experience...and it was still in development then. These were ordinary picture books with optional enhanced content...the animation was similar to a video game...so they are experimenting out there...

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