Posted on 2012-Dec-05
The Updated Overview of eBook Industry
Having followed the dynamic discussion at FutureBook via Good e-Reader, the interview clips and heated debates between publishers and eRetailers signifies some organic movement for booksellers to shape the future for booklovers. To paint the publishers as villains who steal money from innocent buyers might be a tad prejudiced; every business has to nurture their investment to survive the competition race to cater to their employees’ welfares and security. No one knows the future transition of the publishing industry or whether one single universal eBook standard will be compatible with all eReaders. Thus, the meeting between publishing executives and eBook retailers is an essential occurrence to provide the overview of how the publisher and author should adapt to ever-changing consumer behavior. Let’s face it: no matter how many eReaders and eBook formats have bombarded the market, the power to hold the key to reading passion lies in the hands of the reader.
FutureBook 2012 Conference
During The Bookseller’s FutureBook 2012 Conference, the panelists—Chief Executive Officers of leading book companies—opinionated their various strategies to respond to the presenter’s question whether they are telling the reader what to read or creating content the reader wants to read. Stephen Page of Faber and Faber praised the Penguin-Random House mergers whereas Rebecca Smart, Osprey Group, tends to lean toward customers’ feedback to develop new books. Sourcebooks CEO, Dominique Raccah, points out how interactivity can create learning experiences based on her educational perspective. Author Will McInnis senses the growing significance of readers who hold the answer of the future book industry.
The atmosphere started to heat up when the price debate split opinions across the panel board. They tried to formulate the agreeable price that covered the production costs. Now, with the presence of Kobo executive, Michael Tamblyn, and Orna Ross, Director and Founder of The Alliance of Independent Author, along with other influential figures from major publishers, 99-cent books are considered to be favorable for readers to afford it. $4.99 is also included in the discussion to introduce new authors and bestselling titles might carry a higher price tag for what they are worth. Perhaps, the conclusion might be lost in translation when differences of their operational costs are factored in.
Better still, one presenter tackles the DRM issue and seems to read the mind of what readers strongly want. Charlie Redmayne of Pottermore discourages the use of DRM to limit readers’ transferring rights. With DRM preventing readers from accessing their favorite story in their eReading devices, the content providers are losing ground to grasp the big picture that digital opportunities require telling stories on every digital platform and every digital device. Piracy concerns are undeniably one big difficulty that prompts the publishers to create the protective system. Apparently, the said protection is a double-edged sword that destroys its own credibility and reader’s loyalty. Instead of restricting the reader’s accessibility, Pottermore improvises the watermark to track the pirates and lower the illegal sharing percentages.
The exploration of the current intertwining relationship between book and eBook may not be complete if the future trend of self-publishing is being left out. It is worth noting that independent authors are reaping success in their trustworthy quality to deliver satisfying storytelling according to Forbes. However, taking a closer look at the publisher’s strenuous effort in publication, I try to understand their message sent to authors and why their resources could benefit them for a hefty price.
Publisher’s Massive Resources
Following the alluring trails established by Random House, their professionally edited video presentation showing the entire production how they work closely with authors to publish a book. There are several senior editors discussing how they try to find the author’s voice and make sure that the finished product as a book will definitely represent the author rather than their editorial management. Random House vows to deal with matters proved to be burdens to many: marketing, legal process, and distribution. The video smoothly presents multi-departmental organization with nice and cozy narration to make sure that their warmhearted voices welcome any creative individual who decides to build their lifelong career in literature. The presentation begins with the effortless conversation with many high-level editors who effortlessly continue to announce their level of professionalism to treat authors like they have never experienced such a privilege anywhere. Toward the end of the clip, the appearance of younger developers flocking around the glass desk in a mirror-filled room seems to promise the new chapter of their transition to craft digital future with different eReaders testing. No wonder a Youtube visitor declares his/her love to work with “dream employeer [sic]”. However, the numerous outsourcing of editing and production that takes place at the big publishing houses was conveniently neglected. Additionally, editors were editing a printed manuscript with pens. We didn’t know people still did that!
The writer of the article read the future and highlighted how authors were capable of fulfilling the above-mentioned elaboration. The time-consuming and money-spending processes could be cut short by thoughtful facilitators spearheaded by Amazon and Smashwords to make sure the authors get what they deserve. Based on the utopian ideal built by the euphoria of professional promoters which has been articulated effortlessly well in the previous paragraph, the traditional route can also offer lucrative deal in paying lump advances and connecting with influential networks e.g. bloggers, designers, illustrators, multi-national online stores. Conversely, the dystopian dream of going against the traditional prosperity cruelly presents self-publishers with stressful pressure to make ends meet while maintaining the stellar communicative skills with readers to make sure their independent distribution will not falter or fade into oblivion after the hyped promotional period. With independence comes new challenges in life that authors may have never foreseen.
Role Model Self-publishers
Having said that, one traditional book author decides to go rogue and declares her independent success with self-esteemed confidence. Bestselling Bella Andre defies the gravity forced by major publishers and walks away from their restriction to her income only to gain higher earnings in 2012. Regardless of how many times Andre tops the chart here and there, she is not the only role model to break free from the Big 6 (or is it Big 4 now?). Stephanie Bond earns massive reputation topping the chart constantly. Back in August, according to Galleycat, she held her fifth place on Amazon Self-published Bestsellers but consider the following sensation how Bond has come back stronger to claim her second place trophy.
Open-Mindedness and Reader-Centric Focus
It is a long way to go before some prophecies could look into the future of the book industry and pinpoint the definition of steady success. Although no one knows at this stage what the future brings, in conclusion, there are two points to be drawn from the extended discussion: independence is becoming the major theme of creative minds; reader-centric focus remains the rhetoric philosophy. Since authors cultivate their own bitterness and joy before pouring it onto paper or digital page long before money gets involved, their creativity clearly familiarizes them with freedom to overcome challenges. No matter how sales records disappoint or boost their growth, authors can remain persistent in pursuing their storytelling goals. Publishers are like experienced sages who have long developed the magical sense in business with distributing channels; however, technology is gradually changing and so are the game players. The customer is the heart of every business and in this particular industry reader is voicing their needs on social media platform. Never limit yourself to a single school of learning and remain open to any flexibility to stay relevant and vigilant.
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