As past times go, there's little that is more old-fashioned, quiet and basic as reading a book. Or, at least, that used to be the case. But with the competitive flood of electronic readers, or e-readers, hitting the market as well as e-reader applications for smartphones, the reading experience has been getting a progressively modern makeover. The stats are in and the fight is on. Overall book sales have dropped in 2008 and 2009, according to the American Association of Publishers (AAP). While adult hardcover books actually increased by over 6% in 2009, eBook sales, which account for 4% of all book sales, have increased a whopping 176%.
Are these figures telling the tale of the tape as the publishing industry struggles to regain their status as a recession proof industry? Are eBooks on their way to eliminating traditional books altogether? Most of us love to read and most of us have our preferences for the platform we read from. Will you be a traditionalist and stand behind the old guard? Bill McCoy, executive director of International Digital Publishing Forum, based in Seattle, Washington, said that while it's hard to gauge just how the sale of digital books (e-books) is growing, it's clear that the sales, as a percentage of the overall market, are in the double digits "and on a fast-growing vector". "Amazon is saying that they're selling more e-books than hardcover books. And in many cases, depending on the title, they might be selling more e-books than physical books." A relatively new phenomenon is that e-reader, be it Kindle, ipad or a number of other new competitors coming into the marketplace. When we think about our environment, these devices seem to be more environmentally friendly than our typical paper and cardboard book, even a paperback. There are certain tactile to real book, just feeling the paper, turning the pages. But on the surfaces, the e-reader would seem to be much greener. E-reader vs. conventional book is a provocative question. Actually, right now, there are some major problems with conventional book publishing, of which you should be aware, if your goal is to get this community to acquire and then to issue your work. The first one is distribution through bookstores has never been tougher. Most publishers sell to stores on consignment. If books don't fly off shelves into the hands of buyers, they're returned to publishers, very quickly. Your title doesn't get very long exposure or time to establish itself. Other than that, books used to be kept "in print" and available for longer periods of time, in many cases, for years. Now, they're put to death quickly, if initial sales are anything other than brisk. Besides that, we live in an era of the celebrity book. If Oprah wants to write a diet book, it will be a monster hit; you know that. But the most exciting, up and coming, highly credentialed nutritionist may not have a chance of breaking into print. Next, publishers expect authors to make them profitable through personal promotional efforts. "What are you going to do to sell this book?" is the major question they ask, and agents will tell you, without a personal commitment to sell your own copies, stated in your book proposal, you won't get a publisher to bite. Otherwise, publishers are clueless, themselves, about what to put out there. Reluctant to lead, and reluctant to follow the success of others, they are like the proverbial deer in the headlights. It used to be the case that if you wanted information on a subject you either went to your library or to your local bookstore. Not anymore. By going to the Internet, you can assemble the equivalent of a book, fast and more or less, for free. Publishers haven't figured out how to sell content at a premium, in an environment in which so much of it is available, instantly, for nothing. There are alternatives to conventional book publishing, including self-publishing and using media alternatives such as audios and videos. A regular book is better....
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