Buyer's Guide: The State of Ebooks in 2014
Everybody's A Publisher
Another huge effect of the ebook revolution is the surge in self-publishing. While this was possible in print, it is a no brainer with ebooks. For every self-published Cinderella story like Fifty Shades of Grey, there are thousands of books published by authors who may only sell a few hundred copies, and many so-called "hybrid authors" who publish some books themselves and other books through established publishers. Ebooks made this possible.
The Imminent Ebook Watershed in Education
While most attention to ebooks still focuses on trade, huge advances are happening in other areas of publishing. One of the most important is education. Past surveys have established the perception that students prefer print, but recent ones show that is about to change. Why? Because ebook advancements, such as the application of adaptive learning technology, has enabled e-textbooks to be better than print textbooks. A prominent textbook expert recently remarked that he thinks the current cycle of major textbook production -- a long and complex process -- is the last one that will be based on print.
An important initiative that is soon to have a huge impact is EDUPUB, a joint initiative by an alliance of organizations, including the IDPF (the International Digital Publishing Forum, responsible for the EPUB standard), the IMS Global Learning Consortium, the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) and Pearson. EDUPUB has come to involve a large number of publishers, technology companies, and service organizations that are working together to establish an open, extensible, practical set of standards and practices for educational publishing.
It's Not Just About Ereaders
One thing the EDUPUB initiative makes clear is that ebooks are not just about ereaders like Kindle, Kobo, and Nook. Today, ebooks are available on basically all digital platforms. Some -- like the textbook platforms provided by CourseSmart and VitalSource -- are proprietary and designed to provide a uniform user experience across all devices, including laptops, tablets, and phones. Retailers like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and B&N have apps that enable the ebooks they sell to be read on that same wide range of devices.