Friday, March 12, 2010

Stepping into the e-book time machine

by Rachel

Remember those exciting edge-of-your-seat Choose Your Own Adventure books we read as kids? I always loved them--one book with so many different outcomes. Well, Michael passed along Nathan Bransford’s Choose Your Own Adventure approach to the future of the e-book market. There are so many ways the e-book can change the future of publishing, and Nathan has done a wonderful job of showing us his predictions.

I’m still rather traditional when it comes to my book collection and though I have an e-reader now, I actually miss the nuisance of turning pages and sometimes getting paper cuts which I, of course, don’t get while reading from an electronic tablet. But, having said that, I’ll read in whatever format is available if I have to, and as the e-book market booms, it’s interesting to see from Nathan’s blog entry where we could end up if only a couple of e-book vendors dominate the field and publishers become an afterthought. A depressing end, to say the least.

So, having chosen your own e-book adventure, what outcome do you think is most likely? I’d like to hear your predictions.


  1. On this Friday, I wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. I love the format - everyone in the office contributes with lots of different ideas, even disagreements. I love that everyone is consistently upbeat and charging ahead. It's never a rant. It gives me confidence that the future of the publishing industry is in good hands. Thank you.

  2. First of all, ditto what Anonymous just said. On the subject of e-books, I have to say I'm not a fan. While I admit I sometimes read them because they're quick and convenient, and I certainly think they're going to grow more and more popular, I would be devastated if they began to outweigh the book market. There's nothing like the feel of curling up with a book. A solid book with a ridiculously lovely creased spine. And let's face it: it would be very difficult for flap copies to say "a real page-turner" if everything became digital. What would they say? "You'll be clicking 'Next Page' at the speed of light"?

    Also, from the point of view of a writer and someone who wants to be published, I somehow think the satisfaction of having a book available online would pale in comparison to the feeling new authors must have when they see their books in print in bookstores.

  3. I think things are going to end up like they were fifty or sixty years ago, where there are different sizes of players, and the midlist is healthy again. eBooks are going to be the major part of that, but I don't think that paper is dead.

    I think this because in the end, it's what the audience wants that will dictate the form everything takes -- at least when it comes to something as cheap and easy to produce as ebooks.

    Personally, I expect I'll own lots more books than ever before, but I won't realize it. (It's a lot easier to buy a bigger hard disk than it is to buy a bigger house.)

  4. If it's a throw away novel, if it's a manuscript that's got to be read over the week-end, then I can see purpose in the electronic readers. If it's a beautiful book with colour photographs -- it's not there yet. I'm sure it's evolving, I'm sure it will become better, but it hasn't yet replaced the pleasure of holding a real book in the hand. But then again, I wonder what proportion of the reading public ever hold a book that in itself is a pleasure to touch and look at?

  5. ebooks take up less space. You can carry several books on a trip. Easy to buy, never out of stock. But, you can't share them with your best friend, go to the library or book store and spend glorious hour after hour perusing the shelves. No lazy afternoons at the book store with a cup of hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. When you change ereaders, everything you bought is gone. I want my books personal, real. Not sterile and digital.
    You can't feel the heft of a new bestseller series in your hand. When you open the book, there's no crackle, no soft paper on paper sound as you turn the page. And, e-ink is ugly. Well, the iPad version looks alright enough, but it's still not a real book, which I'd always prefer.
    All that said, I think ebooks are a terrific market for books that go out of print - a way for the publishing world and authors to eek out a little more money from a book that may no longer justify the cost of a physical copy.

  6. I personally love my books. I don't see myself investing in an e-book reader. I have talked to some of my friends about it and they agree they love the idea of having bookshelves in their homes, the dream of an at home library, the smell of books, the feel, everything that e-books lack. I'm not saying they won't get more popular but I do not think they are going to wipe out traditional books as we know them. Maybe we can buy traditional books and they will have a feature where we can add them to our e-book readers to have on the go? That wouldn't be too bad, but for the most part I'm sticking to traditional.