Harlequin Goes All E-Book / Borders Expands Sony Reader / E-Books Corner Niche Markets / Borders and Sony to Launch E-Bookstore
These are just some of the headlines I’ve seen on my literary travels in the past few months. From Discover Magazine and Scientific American, to RWR publications and more.
Now, I’m usually pretty dense, but even I can pick up on the pattern here. E-books and e-book technology are becoming big news. BIG.
An e-book is, of course, the digital media equivalent of a conventional printed book. And sure, we all already know that, but I’m not going to assume that everyone is familiar with e-books. I know I wasn’t until very very recently. Oh, it’s not that I had my head stuck in a smudgy-inked parchment cloud or anything, but for the longest time, I just couldn’t quite see the appeal. I mean, how could an e-book—something so insubstantial and intangible as a digital blip in cyberspace—be of any value to me? I who thrive on the fact that my house is lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves in almost every room, who has books piled on tables, the floor and even the bathroom counter.
I’ve always loved a good book in my hands. When I kick back after a long day, do I reach for that special someone lying beside me for comfort and ease? Well…yes. But then I pick up my book. I can even smell the paper right now if I think about it hard enough. It’s soothing to me, like the scent of Grandma’s home-baked apple pie at Thanksgiving. Which makes it even harder to imagine all of that changing. But books have changed, are changing as we speak. Is it for the better though, or not?
The fact is, publishers have been trying to steer readers into e-books for over a decade, the main reason being that they’re a hell of a lot cheaper to produce and distribute. And while the original objection to electronic books revolved around the somewhat uncomfortable experience of reading text on a screen, that argument was more persuasive 10 years ago than it is today. How many of us now spend the whole day reading text on a computer screen anyway? From work related material to blogs and emails. Hell, you can even watch TV and movies on your computer. Why not read books? Especially with the advent of the E-Reader, a truly beautiful little gadget that everyone should have a chance to check out and play with.
And the stats show more and more people are looking to e-books for their literature, whether it be for educational reading, to lose themselves in a mystery, or enjoy a hot erotica. And romance especially has done well in e-formats. The RWA published statistics for 2006 indicating that, while the early best-selling e-books were mainly in science fiction categories and other titles favoured by men….there has been a decided shift since then towards romance and women’s fiction, and this trend has only increased in 2007.
So with e-literature on the rise, how do you feel about it? As a reader, have you tried it? Do you even have an E-Reader and what do you think about the technology in general? If you haven’t yet had the opportunity, can you see yourself cracking open a pdf to enjoy your latest Nora release, or are you a hard-core paper lover to the end?
As a writer, are you querying e-publishers? As with all publishers of course, there are good and bad ones, but RWA has a list of approved e-publishers who are trusted and respected in the industry. And if you haven’t yet, what’s holding you back? Would you feel better about it if you had the option of being published in both formats? A lot of e-publishers offer print-on-demand contracts to their successful authors to add an extra layer to their sales, which will still give you the opportunity of holding that book you’ve sweated over for so long in your own two hands.
I guess it comes down to how much you believe the trends are really changing. Do you believe e-books are really the wave of the future? Will electronic publishing and the evolution of its technology stand the test of time, and the fickle nature of the readers?