Social media offers great ways to spread the word -- and find a narrow audience of like-minded readers. In practice, however, this approach may not be sustainable for busy writers and publishers. All this could change, however, if the shared social content is less about book promotion and more about sharing the actual book.
Reading a book is a solitary activity, not a social one. There are exceptions, like reading aloud to a child or a shut-in, but for the most part, reading is something you do by yourself.
When the subject of ebooks versus print — EVP, if you will — is discussed, one sees passionate loyalty on both sides. This is good news for the art, science and business of publishing. Such passion shows that this long established format of encoding and exchanging knowledge has captured the hearts of millions who view books as essential to their lives. What it also does, unfortunately, is cloud the real issues. Partisan loyalty to old or new book formats can blind us to what makes a book valuable in the first place.
After years of obscurity, the ebook has become a full-fledged disruption for publishers—supplanting print sales in North America and Europe, and threatening to do so throughout the developing world. Influenced by rapid changes in handheld, portable devices, as well as new pricing and supply chain models, ebooks represent both problem and opportunity for publishers. Rather than attempting absolute predictions, it may be more helpful to assess the current situation—and the many remaining obstacles to ebook adoption and profitability—all with an eye toward discovering ways for publishers and their partners, at least in theory, to thrive in this new environment.
There’s no need to detail the history of ebooks, except to point out a specific turning point: Amazon’s 2007 combining of E Ink devices with its enormous e-commerce potential. The Kindle phenomenon transformed ebooks from novelty status into a viable consumer trend, especially for narrative text reading. The big question today is whether the tablet trend marks a similar, fundamental transformation in ebook consumption, or just an incremental step in the process.
E-books have created both opportunity and havoc for publishers. Readers have begun to love (or at least claim to love) the benefits of e-reading on a screen. However, the processes for traditional book creation, distribution and use (based on a physical artifact) are fundamentally different from those of a fluid information medium.
As publishers continue to test the potential for interactive ebooks, investigating what other sects are doing may offer clues on how to thrive in the digital era. One underexplored publishing segment is comic books, graphic novels, and manga, or CGM for short.