The e-book publishing gear crunch – web first for books?

Next year, publishers may find themselves having to choose between treating e-books as it would any other format, or as a separate entity. Publishers are increasingly having to weigh the way they’ve always done business — selling books primarily to retailers and distributors — against a swelling tide of consumers who want to get their e-books directly from the publisher, when they want them, and on the device they choose.

Before, I go on, Happy New Year to you. It’s good to be back on the grid after a long December break…

Like music, marketing and the movies before it the publishing industry is going through a grinding gear crunch at the moment as it figures out how or where e-books fit into its business model.

Lisa Weinman’s article takes a look at the different strategies they are playing with in the publishing industry for e-books on platforms like the Amazon Kindle, from publishing ahead of time as a kind of teaser/exclusive, to “enhanced” limited editions and publishing four months after the physical book goes on sale. 

My view is that for many books the publishing e-book-first is a winner for a number of reasons, not least that in terms of building interest for a title e-book buyers are likely to be innovators/early adopters and potentially the kinds of people who will spread the word. It would also make the review process a lot easier, since you would not be restricted by a certain number of copies in letting critics, reviewers and bloggers get copies. 

For factual books, an e-first release would also mean that you would also catch more errors / issues earlier and be able to publish errata and corrections (even just online) before a book arrived in the shops, kind of in the way that web-first publishing has helped the journalistic process at newspapers, as print articles have already been open to scrutiny and comment by readers online.  

At the moment I am going through, or at least my manuscript is, the last stages of the book publishing process. The e-book element of this is far from clear – certainly not automatic.

The processes to turn a proof into an e-book you’d think would be a flick-of-a-switch thing, a default, with more thought out approaches having a parallel publishing track but this is not necessarily the case.

E-book versions of everything probably will become integrated into the book publishing process in the next few years, in the same was as listing them on Amazon has. Amazon was where I first saw the cover of my book, as it was published there automatically with all of the details of Me & My Web Shadow before I had even finished writing the thing.

Perhaps Amazon and other e-book publishers will become part of an automated process soon. It will certainly be interesting to watch what happens.

: : I’m going to try and get Me & My Web Shadow published as a Kindle book. Stay tuned to see how this works, if you’re interested.

: : : I’m also conscious that M&MWS (still playing with abbreviations, maybe I should stick to the #webshadows tag) will be published the other side of the launch of the Apple “iSlate”.

Posted via web from Antony’s posterous

By Antony Mayfield

I'm Antony Mayfield - to find out more about me take a look at my LinkedIn profile (see the button on the home page). You can contact me by email at antony [dot] mayfield [at] gmail [dot] com. Google