Home > cultural commentary > Ebook publishing – new styles and possibilities?

Ebook publishing – new styles and possibilities?

In surfing the net I came across a couple of things that made sense to me (though whether I’ll be able to act on them is another question).

They’re basically thoughts about how ebook publishing in future might look a lot less like ‘publishing’ and much more like some other things, like running nightclub events or selling software. Or a mix of both.

First: Doug Toft’s Posterous Blog. Headline details: publishers had five main functions: curating (i.e. maintaining and developing a ‘collection’ of authors), editing/publishing, printing, distribution, promotion of their authors’ works. However, 90% of the work involved in publishing disappears with digital versions. OK, so the files need to be edited, put into multiple digital formats, and someone needs to do a lot of SEO work – but even so, the one key issue that digitalisation doesn’t change is the ‘curating’ function.

So what can publishers deliver that makes it worthwhile for an author to do business with them? Answer: readers. He describes the new functions of a publisher, apart from curating, as creating, leading, and connecting together potential members of a ‘tribe’.

Book publishing then comes to look a lot more like – this is my view, I should say, not his – being involved in promoting a band, or running a successful nightclub event.

Second: a thought about the future of ebooks from the NY Times article ‘E-Books Fly Beyond Mere Text’. Headline details: ebooks offer publishers and writers all kinds of new possibilities, such as embedding video, games, music, easter eggs and so forth. For many books the key attraction will remain the story – plot, characters, language style and so forth – but obviously these new possibilities are available and can be exploited, just as they can in Word files, if you want to do it. And savvy writers can build them into the text.

Again my take on this is that few authors will be able to do it by themselves, but within a collective that involves multi-media people (or a multi-media publisher, of course) it will become increasingly common, accepted, even expected. After all, many if not most textbooks are already supported by dedicated websites – with an ebook, the dedicated support can be built into the book – including, perhaps, letting the reader know the support materials have been updated and allowing them (for a payment?) to upload the amended version, in the same way software companies get you to buy a product and then charge for the update/upgrade.

Any thoughts?

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  1. August 1, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Sounds like a good way to go. Publishing has certainly had to come out of the dark ages of quill and parchment! New ideas and ways of communicating are paramount to sucess now- whether you write, are a photographer, artist, sculptor or providing any other form of creative input.

  2. August 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I released an enhanced e-cookbook a couple of months ago that contains video links of the recipe being prepared. I’m going to re-release it with more video links since people are telling me they love the videos! For “how-to” books, video is the way to go! Thanks for the article.

    • August 2, 2010 at 1:49 am

      That’s interesting – this does look like the way to go, though it means authors either have to have a range of other skills (like video editing) or be able to connect and collaborate with others who have such skills. I know people do make their own videos on Youtube just using a webcam, but presumably a cookery video would need to be a bit more sophisticated? Good luck with your book, anyway.

  3. August 2, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Thanks Jon! It’s been a labor of love and one of the hardest projects I’ve done! and expensive which brings up that point: price. And to stay competitive. Thanks again!

  4. August 2, 2010 at 4:17 am

    I’m so glad you commented on my blog last week, because it pointed me back here. I have a friend who is trying to publish an eBook, and I think he’ll find your blog to be quite useful. Thanks very much for this!

  5. Uwe
    August 12, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    eBook-Verkauf leicht gemacht

    Der amerikanische eBook-Markt hebt endgültig ab – wenn
    auch noch auf vergleichsweise überschaubarem Niveau. Innerhalb
    von zwölf Monaten explodierten in den Staaten die Umsätze
    mit elektronischen Büchern um 228%. Ermittelt wurden die
    Zahlen vom International Digital Publishing Forum (früher
    “Open eBook”), einem Lobbyverband zahlreicher Publisher und
    Händler. Im Vorstand des IDPF sitzen unter anderem Vertreter
    von Adobe, Random House und Overdrive.
    Die renommierte GfK-Gruppe (ermittelt u.a. auch die TV-Einschaltquoten)
    legte heute spannende Daten zum deutschen
    eBook-Markt vor.
    Demnach wurde in Deutschland im ersten Halbjahr dieses
    Jahres rund 65.000x für eBooks Geld bezahlt. Der Großteil dieser
    Verkäufe dürfte dabei auf das zweite Quartal entfallen, kam
    der “Marktmotor” Sony Reader doch erst Mitte März in den
    Handel.
    Die Verlagsgruppe Randomhouse etwa vermeldete hierzulande
    seitdem mehr eBook-Umsätze als in den vorigen drei Jahren
    zusammen.
    (Zitat /Quelle: http://www.lesen.net)

    eBook Verkauf hat einen entscheidenden Vorteil gegenüber
    den herkömmlichen Vertriebswegen: Nämlich keinen persönlichen
    Kundenkontakt. Wie Sie selber sicherlich wissen, entscheidet
    Sympathie, die man dem Verkäufer gegenüber empfindet,
    oftmals über den Kauf oder Nicht-Kauf eines Produktes.
    Die Sache verhält sich beim eBook Vertrieb jedoch gänzlich anders.
    Denn hier entscheidet der Kunde in erster Linie über den
    Nutzen, den er mit Erwerb Ihres eBooks erzielt. Sowie anhand
    der Verkaufsseite, über die Sie Ihr eBook anbieten. Was die Sache
    jedoch auch nicht unbedingt leichter machen muss. Denn
    neben einem guten eBook, einer verkaufsfördernden Webseite
    stehen Ihnen im Internet eine große Anzahl an Mitbewerbern
    im Wege, die Ihnen einen erfolgreichen Verkauf sehr schnell
    verbauen können. Eröffnen Sie beispielsweise einen Buchhandlung
    in Ihrem Ort oder Ihrer Stadt, so ist die Anzahl der Mitbewerber
    auf Ihr lokales Gebiet begrenzt. Anders jedoch im Internet.
    Hier stehen Ihnen nicht nur eBook Shops als Mitbewerber
    gegenüber, sondern auch die Webseiten, die ähnliche oder gleiche
    Suchbegriffe auf Ihren Homapages beinhalten, die möglicherweise
    auch Ihr eBook bzw. Ihren Shop beschreiben. Und so
    stehen Sie oft sehr schnell vor folgendem Problem: Sie haben
    zwar ein hervorragendes und informatives eBook, eine ansprechende
    und verkaufsfördernde Webseite – ABER keiner findet

    Sie. Und so zerplatzt die Illusion eines erfolgreichen eBook-Vertriebes
    oft schneller als sie gekommen ist.
    Genau mit dieser Problematik befasst sich dieser Ratgeber.

    “eBook-Verkauf leicht gemacht”
    Wenn Ihr Interesse an diesem Ratgeber habt folgt dem Link: http://www.download-shop-24.de/product_info.php?info=p283_eBook-Verkauf-leicht-gemacht.html

  6. August 12, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    OK the above comment is in German, which I read very poorly – but I ran it through a translation programme to find some interesting and serious points.

    Headline details: ebook sales are large and growing very quickly; it’s a global market, not a local one mediated through local points of sale; purchasing strategies from buyers differ from physical books because of this (because you won’t get e.g. a personal recommendation or suggestion from an actual salesperson in a bookshop – not that I’ve noticed many sales staff in the UK do this except in small independents!); and for sales, a good ‘front end’ website and SEO is crucial because without good searchability potential customers won’t find the book.

    I’ve probably missed stuff – if anyone wants a full translation, try copy/pasting to something like babelfish.yahoo.com (but be prepared for some awkwardness in the translation!).

  7. October 12, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I think E-book publicshing is a way to help everybody, i a change to make money (MMO).

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