Thursday, June 12, 2008

E-Publishing and Amazon's Kindle

When the Amazon Kindle was first launched the publishing world was buzzing. It’s pretty, it’s convenient and it’s the best e-reader yet to be released. But what is this really going to mean? Should authors start thinking about selling older books?

It’s funny that whenever a new venue for publishing emerges (a new house or a new technology) the immediate reaction of authors is to try to sell all of their older books. Why? As the head of any company or corporation knows, you are only as good as your last product. In other words, as a writer building your brand and your career you're only as good as your latest release, so why would you make that latest release an old book that maybe isn’t as good as what you’re currently writing or not even in the same voice? Just because there’s a new venue for your books doesn’t mean everything you’ve ever written should be plopped into it.

The Amazon Kindle and other similar technologies will only work if readers want to read and buy the books made available to them. If your books weren’t viable in the market before, it’s unlikely they are now, unless of course something major has happened to your career to change that, but we’re not going to go into the exceptions at this point.

What I foresee in e-publishing as well as traditional publishing is a greater need for ebooks. I think more people will buy books electronically and read them that way. Do I see an end to paper? Not anytime soon, but I do see a change. I think more nonfiction will go electronic before fiction. It will be so much easier to update nonfiction titles continuously when they are published electronically. How great would it be if your new purchase, a book on breast cancer treatments, can be updated by only purchasing one chapter?

Kim just recently got a Kindle and I’m sure she’ll comment. I haven’t been swayed yet. I love it for its weight and size. Certainly it seems more convenient for travel, and I really love the thought of downloading my submissions to a Kindle and reading them that way. To me, though, there are still some chinks in the armor that need to be worked out before I’m swayed completely. I’m sure I’ll be an ebook reader before too long, but I can’t imagine that it will be the only way I read books. But what about you? How do you feel about this new way of reading and why do you feel that way?