And here it is.
I was struck by a puzzle this afternoon. Who wants to buy e-books? And not just the current versions which are really just fancy PDFs, but the e-books of the future. Who cares if it has video content of flashy style graphic charts? Who really needs that product?
Isn't that need, the flash and the style, served better by online sites? If you can get online rapidly or even better are constantly online then surely searching the freely available information will be your preference, will most new knowledge be acquired by searching for specific information and not by reading in depth books which contain unnecessary data?
It’s a big issue. Is the noise being made about how to find a new format for books in the electronic age really worth listening to?
Is the book publishing industry fooling itself publishing books at a fierce clip to an ever fragmenting market and an ever reducing readership? The newspaper industry seems to be fooling itself if it sees a future in print. USA Today reports on steep offline readership losses for established papers.
Books work as I have said before. They are not a broken technology. You will never have to stop reading them because your battery is dead. You do not need to carry anything else to read. The only limitation on information is how much weight you chose to carry.
I cannot see e-books delivering such superior features that they surpass books anytime soon, and clearly they do not and will not rate devices on their own even if they did, new formats sound more like blogs or websites then books (not necessarily a bad idea and touching on an idea by Joe Wikert some time ago).
If that is the case then the focus of the book publishing industry needs to shift towards how best to serve the devices that currently exist and which people currently use and will use in the future to gain their content and how to make money from those sources. Or even more realistically to ensuring the continuation of the current, working format, the plain old paperback book.
Having given it some more thought I have decided there is still one key missing element in the whole equation of self-publishing versus traditional published via publishing house decision. That missing element is one I have touched upon before, marketing!
Blurb is a wonderful service as is Lulu.com. They show how easy it is to challenge established companies with new and innovative solutions. They may well even challenge traditional publishers in certain markets. They do not provide enough tools for authors to sell their books. How on earth in all the mix can they?
If you read a previous post of mine on Self Publishing you will have seen me direct self publishers in direction of Google Book Search. The truth is that for local specific titles this will not really do the trick.
So what will? Are there solutions other than the tried and tested route of building up demand by leaking select news to local press, getting author interviews on local radio, convincing the local papers to run a review and maybe just maybe paying for a locally run print advert? The launch well publicised will help of course but in the end it may come down to the popularity of the author and more than likely the quality of his or her content.