Friday, January 11, 2013

The World of Ebooks

by G.Parker
(photo is of a Kindle basic from Barnes and Noble)

There was an interesting article in the Deseret News this week about libraries and ebooks.  Since most of us will have some kind of interaction with ebooks and our work, then I thought it would be something you'd be interested in.  I was interested because libraries are one of my favorite places to be.  ;)

Apparently the publishing world is a little leery of libraries having access to ebooks as opposed to physical books.  According to the article, there are three main digital distributors of ebooks for libraries:  Overdrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor.  They are preventing libraries from accessing many of the ebooks published today. The big 6 publishers don't sell the ebooks to libraries.  For those of you who don't know, there are 6 main publishers in the book industry: Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette and Simon &Schuster.  I would think you've heard of most, if not all of them.  I don't think I've ever heard of Hachette, but ya know.

The gist of the article was that book publishers and sellers are overlooking the opportunity that libraries give their books, whether in ebook or physical book form.  Readers tend to buy if they like something they've read.  They're likely to tell people about it as well, and people are then likely to go out and buy it because it was recommended.  The article also suggested that libraries may well become the "showroom for the future".  Instead of brick and mortar buildings like Barnes and Noble, they will be going to libraries and checking out the books to see if they like them enough to buy them.  Interesting thought.

Another thing the article said that a large percentage of the people who check out ebooks usually make $75,000 or more.  An even larger percent of those people have at least a college degree.  Apparently that's a target audience to publishers.

The article quotes David Lee King (the digital branch and services manager at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library) as saying the publishing world is:

      "...where the music industry was 10 years ago.  And so they are still figuring out that stuff
       and they have these libraries hanging on their coattails saying, 'Hey! What about me?' And
       I don't think they are thinking about those things, they are looking at their central business
       and thinking, 'How do we survive?'"

Coming from the point of view of a writer, I see it from a different angle.  I see this as a plus for us authors.  The ebook format gives us a little more leeway and say in how our books are sold and viewed.  We also get a larger piece of an ebook than we do a physical book.

As someone who loves, I don't mean just likes, or would prefer, I mean LOVEs the feel of a book in my hands, that comes as a bitter pill to swallow.  But swallow I will, because if I can sell my book without having to beg a publisher to print it for me and convince the public to buy it on it's own merits, I figure all the better.

As how it pertains to libraries, I pretty much agree with Mr. King.  I check out books from the library because I can't afford to buy books the minute they come out.  If I check it out and discover that it's every bit as good as I thought it was, then I will save up and go buy it.  I don't do this at a bookstore because I feel funny sitting there and reading the book, despite the atmosphere they like to foster to encourage such a thing.  I think generally they would prefer you purchase the book and then sit and read, but that's just me.

So, that's it for this week.  Let us know what you think about the whole thing.

No comments: