We're over the initial hype, but we've yet to grasp the long-term implications.
Calm before the next storm
In the aftermath of the recent dot-com fallout, e-books have quieted. Several members of the trade press reported how notably "non-e" BookExpo America was in the spring. Uncertainty for large distributors like Yahoo!, and Amazon.com trickles down to the e-publishers, while trepidation stems from the nerve-racking wait of the Random House v. Rosetta Books case. Yet, publishers are still producing e-titles (many of which are complements to some companion print product, mind you). And mirroring CTP's adoption, e-books remain almost exclusively popular in certain segments, with education putting in the strongest showing to date. But also like CTP, pundits are committed to e-viability, standing tall in their assertion that e-books will eventually steal significant market share from print.
It's just too darned early to tell, but the e-book outlook doesn't look inclement by any means, despite the recent slowing pace. While e-reading may not have reached the pinnacle of consumer affection, it's getting better.
And finally, like CTP, industry standards groups have gathered in hopes of creating process and formatting consensus. Their lead is ours to follow.
What happened with CTP?
These days, fewer and fewer printers are proud and eager to raise their hands to show they're a film-only shop. Indeed, content creators got the better end of the deal. While CTP meant vast capital investments, staff retraining and even layoffs for the printers, in many cases, for the book publisher, it hasn't forced a profound difference in the way we produce. This, too, is subject to change.
Like magazine and catalog publishers before you, it's feasible to think that you will work in an all-digital, standards-adhering workflow that will call for you to become your own design, publishing and prepress supplier. Of course, this largely depends on the relationships you've built with your suppliers, how technologically progressive they are and how willing your publishing house is to make an investment in the tools you'll need to create and produce bullet-proof print- (and, yes, e-book) ready files.