...if the writer has the energy, determination and persistence to develop more stories, and is open to learning and perfecting his or her craft, then s/he can offer another story, and maybe get a second date, and a third, and perhaps become a couple. How great is that?Read More
On a recent flight across the country, at least one in every 12 passengers were either reading or watching entertainment on tablets or smartphones. About 40% of these were reading books. About 1 in every 25 passengers were reading traditional books. This personal observation is anecdotal, of course, but it made an impression. That e-readers are becoming the new norm as personal digital devices become more intuitive, adaptive to personal needs, reliable and affordable is no longer news. Then, a report from Pew Research and the American Life Project was released yesterday. The take-away from the NYTimes article: tablet and e-reader sales doubled over the last year. Adult users increased from 10% of adults in Dec 2011 to 19% of adults in December 2012. Increased ownership of tablets is especially pronounced among highly educated users with household incomes exceeding $75,000. In fact, nearly one third of people with college degrees own tablets.
As a writer, I'm pleased to see that many people are choosing to read when they have the opportunity. How they choose to read helps inform my thinking about how my stories should read on the page vs. screen, and how to focus my efforts to improve the reader experience.
Table and E-Reader Sales Soar | NYTimes
In a vote of confidence for the growing digi-lit market, E-Reads, a leading independent in the e-book and print on demand space, has uploaded more than 200 titles to Apple iPad, Kobo, Diesel and Google editions. E-Reads is converting its ten-year, 1000+ title inventory to the specifications of these and other retailers, as well as older customers.
Self-publishing is leveling what has been a uneven field of competition for authors, for readers, and for book sellers. Writers still write books on spec, but now they can manage rights, take responsibility for when and how their work is published, participate more fully as equal partners in their work's publication, connect more directly with readers, and be better literary citizens.
Book Publishing is Becoming Self-publishing
The Internet has made every individual a potential publisher. And technology is making every idea, story, and work of art marketable. Even the business side of the transaction is returning to a one-to-one exchange.
JA Konrath has six books in print and thirteen e-books available from Amazon. He has projected that he will earn up to $100,000 this year on sales of his e-books alone. Each sale is initiated by an interested reader who decides to download one of his novels to their Kindle, iPad, PC, Mac, iPhone, iTouch, Droid, or any other of an expanding universe of personal e-reading options. Amazon's online Kindle Store (or Apple's iBook and others) completes the transaction within seconds. No shipping. No waiting. From JA Konrath directly to Ima Reader wherever she is on the planet.
There are thirty-nine e-readers on the market. Considering the quantum leap forward in quality of the user experience, it is tempting to rephrase that device snapshot to something more like: the Apple iPad and thirty-eight others.
The iPad provides an excellent, even transformational e-reading experience. It feels good cradled in your hands, on your lap or propped up against your thighs for those middle of the night reads. It has a high resolution color screen that is easy on eyes, especially aging eyes. It responds instantly, enthusiastically to any impulse. Turning the page is almost as satisfying as leafing pages in that 600-page Dickens anthology you've had since Lit 101. And you can look up words in the dictionary without getting up to go find it. Plug in some ear buds and you can even listen to the voice of your choice read your book to you.
The iPad will dash the ambitions of many early e-readers and the field will inevitably narrow to a select few devices. Sony and other quality device manufacturers will accept iPad's challenge and up their game. All for the better. Whatever makes the author's work available in a high integrity transaction, on an enjoyable-to-use device, and to more people is good.
Opportunity is Calling
When in your lifetime did obstacles to getting your work published actually diminish in number? If you have a good book, some appealing cover art, a compelling description and the ambition to grow your audience, now would be a good time to get out there and share your work.
The Rise of Self Publishing (NYT 26 April 2010)
Which e-readers will the iPad crush? (CNET, 1 April 2010)
Ken Auletta offers a short course on the agency business model and the ever-evolving history of publishing. This article also includes a situational analysis about the stakes for authors, publishers, bookstores, and device makers in the current competition between the printed page and the panel of pixels known as the e-Reader (Kindle, iPad, Nook and others coming online). The writer, journalist and media critic at The New Yorker has been a keen observer of media trends. His Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way put the failing big three television network model in stark context for us in 1991. Now, he has once again captured a dynamic period in media history on the page. His recent article, Publish or Perish Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and save the book business? (The New Yorker, 30 April 2010), is similarly timely and incisive. A 'must read' for authors, agents, publishers and readers.