Book businesspeople are about to make the same mistake that has devastated the music and newspaper industries: worrying about whether a new digital format will cannibalize their traditional business rather than focusing on how to make the new format more competitive with other digital media.
U.K.-based Interead will launch the Cool-er e-book reader at BookExpo America later this month. Similar in appearance to the Sony Reader, the Cool-er is offered in eight colors such as Racing Green, Hot Pink and Vivid Violet.
TheStreet.com reported earlier this week that Barnes & Noble may be working with a device maker and Sprint on its own e-reading device to rival the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and others. The report cited "one wireless industry insider" as the anonymous source of the information.
Beyond the printed book, many opportunities exist for publishers today to repurpose content in various formats and to increase exposure via online search marketing. However, if it is impossible to tag a book for search engine optimization, or adapt a book from a print to an electronic version, without copying, pasting and reformatting 100,000 words, then publishers could waste a significant amount of time and money in pursuit of these opportunities.
People fear the unknown. It’s a simple premise that creeps into our lives more than we realize. Change brings a great amount of uncertainty … and therefore, fear. The changes happening in the book publishing industry right now are enough to prompt even the bravest publishing souls to cover their eyes, cautiously peeking through the space between their fingers to see if it’s OK to look.
On Tuesday, novelist Danielle Steel released 71 of her works, including the new "One Day at a Time," as digital downloads on Amazon.com and The eBook Store by Sony, representing the largest online release by an author in a single day. This is the first time Steel's books, which are published by Random House division Bantam Dell, have been made available in digital format.
Judging from the prognostications that Pat Schroeder remembers hearing at publishing conferences a decade ago, most people today ought to be reading e-books and regarding print as a quaint relic of the past. That hasn’t happened, of course, and the president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) sees that fact as a useful caution when trying to predict the future of the industry. It’s easy to identify key factors, but misjudge their effect; trends that seem vitally important now could fade into obscurity, and the course of publishing could be shaped by things currently on no one’s radar screen.
One might think that all other problems fade into the background when there’s a recession, but for university presses, that’s certainly not true. Questions about changes in education funding and student habits rear up alongside concerns about preparing for the digital future; still, the country’s economic woes are plaguing university presses, and the stress is not likely to disappear anytime soon.