Thursday, February 23, 2006

The shape of things to come

Remember a few years ago when the conversation was all about ebooks and whether or not they would change publishing forever?

Ebooks haven't become the rage many were predicting ten years ago, but they are definitely here to stay. And they have changed the way many people read. (I suspect it will continue to change things, slowly and subtly, for many years to come.)

Here's a new one: how about free books on the internet? HarperCollins is 'publishing' a non-fiction book, sponsored, not by sales but by advertising. No one is predicting that this is the wave of the future, but it is an interesting concept. And if it's successful? Well, you know publishers mostly worry about the bottom line. How could a trend like this affect the way people read or buy books?

Or how about this one? (If you're lucky) Stephen King may call your cell phone. This is mostly promo, but it's interesting. And this is where you make sure he has your number.

Do things like this have long term impact on the way readers chose or read books and how our industry does business ? Look into your crystal ball and tell me how technology is going to change reading and writing (for fun and profit) in the next 10, 20 years. What's next?


Ann Roth said...

Cool topic, Alfie. I wish I had a crystal ball, don't you? In my opinion, though ebooks are slow to catch on, they will indeed become more and more popular. The publishing industry is slow to respond, which is partly due to caution.

But the industry will adjust and there will be changes in contracts, money, and other aspects of busines. What those will be remains to be seen.

That said... I prefer a book to hold, smell, leaf through, dog-ear, etc.

As for those promo phone calls, I'm sure I'm not the only one to receive taped calls from folks such as Howard Dean, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, etc. Cool, yes, but I'm sure I'm one of millions, so those promo calls don't do much for me.

Can't wait to read what others say on this topic.

Allison Brennan said...

Things are constantly in motion. Sometimes they just move slower than others.

E-books are here to stay, but the best e-book authors (IMO) will be in print sooner rather than later. Print books will be offered in multiple formats in order to please the broad range of readers . . . releasing an ebook at the same time as a PBO or hardcover is standard now.

Book trailers are becoming popular, and there are a bunch of different formats . . . what's going to last? Are commercials (i.e. television or film) going to become more common? Some authors do them. I have a trailer on my website. Flash, because most people can view it, and short because people don't want to waste time. But some are video, some are longer, it's all a matter of giving people what they want and we're still in the early stages of book trailers.

But I think books are going to be here for quite some time. I just think there will be more options for individual books.