Gene Therapy: Climbing Aboard the E-book Bandwagon
With the advent of electronic ink, or e-ink, the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle and the .epub formatting protocols, the era of the e-book in the United States may be on its way. If you are a publisher or book producer, sooner or later you will be delivering electronic versions of all of your titles for distribution through a burgeoning network of electronic channels—if you’re not already doing so. It may be tomorrow, it may be next year or possibly later, but I guarantee the need to do so will be thrust upon you by the marketplace.
While it is true that complex pictorials, scholarly text, cross-referencing structures and use of color will exclude some books for the time being, there are e-book display options designed for desktops and portables that can accommodate the original page flow without reflow issues. (See VitalSource.com, NetLibrary.com and Ebrary.com for e-book examples.)
Since you are probably already creating PDF versions of your books to send to your printer and for online browsing and search, it is not difficult to launch an e-book program. The following steps need to be coordinated:
1. Choose the lists and/or titles (with input from your editorial, marketing and sales departments) you believe would qualify for e-book distribution by virtue of content and format.
2. Identify channels through which you could market your e-book editions—such as the library market (Questia, NetLibrary), online retail (Amazon, Fictionwise, Cyberread) and the educational market (VitalSource, Ebrary).
3. Select formats/platforms in which you would like to make e-books available (Kindle, Sony, .epub, PDF/Adobe, Mobipocket, Microsoft.lit/Reader).
4. Select conversion partners/solutions through which you will obtain your e-book files (Data Conversion Laboratory, Rosetta Solutions, Publishing Dimensions, Texterity, Code Mantra, Innodata Isogen).
5. Consult with your distributor and/or wholesaler about which data storage and e-book distributors would be best for you to work with, and choose which service(s) you will use (Ingram Digital, LibreDigital, OverDrive, Vital Source).
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.