Print and/or digital? What does the future hold for readers and writers?
According to Bowker’s last publishing report, the number of digital books published has leveled off. They consider this a market correction. However, traditional or print books from the major publishers are holding up. What does the future hold? As a reader, I personally prefer print. As a writer, I want to be published in both print and digital. I want to take every opportunity to have my words read in any and all formats.
Some of the digital features are great for readers. For instance, e-book readers of all types are lightweight and compact. Yet they hold many titles. Also you can adjust the font size. This is a blessing for those of us who prefer large print which is easier on the eyes.
But what about writers? Is this good for them? After all, e-books generally sell for a lot less than print. Writers earn less per book. However, the upside is that more readers will purchase a digital book because it does cost less. An example of this is my romantic mystery thriller THE BAD WIFE which is selling now for only $2.99 as a Kindle book from the publisher Perfect Crime, a fraction of its print price. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J6PCKVW
Here’s another positive. Many writers have had books and short stories published in the past. Too soon these titles have gone out of print. This is one way to make backlist titles available to the public for long periods of time. By self-publishing an e-book, a writer can keep work available to readers indefinitely. There are also many small ebook publishers who are more than willing to publish reprints since the financial investment is small.
Another positive for writers: many would remain unpublished but for the advent of e-books. Publishers will only invest in print books they believe will make money. A majority of books will earn out very little, especially if the author is unknown. By self-publishing an e-book, a frustrated writer has the opportunity to get his/her work out in the marketplace and hopefully read by the public.
For those who believe in democracy, this is indeed a democratic revolution. The internet has provided a forum for writers of all kinds. It has opened the floodgates of self-expression. Of course, it is also a bit overwhelming. Certainly, not every e-book will go viral—nor should it. But at least hopeful writers will get the exposure they so crave.
The negative factors are quite obvious as well. First, with such a flood of e-books on the market, quality writers may be ignored. Secondly, as to reviews, they often come from friends and relatives and are not necessarily meaningful. Third, many readers simply ignore unknown names and look only at the work of famous writers and celebrities when they buy books. The attitude is that they may download a free book when it’s offered, but won’t buy subsequent books as the author is hoping. This leads to much disappointment among wannabe authors. It may be coming to a point where there are many more books than readers. And of course, if there are no gatekeepers, anything and everything can be published with little regard to quality. Readers are still much more willing to pay for “brand” name authors. E-publishing appears to be something of a mixed blessing.
For me as a writer, I’m not certain what the future will hold. My short story collection, BEYOND THE BO TREE, was published as an ebook on Amazon. Do such collections draw readers? Not as much as novels in my opinion.
One of my YA novels, THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, was published by Astraea/Clean Reads Press which is a digital first publisher. I took a chance and signed with them. The novel has sold steadily and well via word of mouth. It is now scheduled for a print edition. For me, this is important. I confess to not feeling a book is truly published until it receives a print edition. However, I much like the idea of being published both in print and e-book editions.
Another of my novels DEATH LEGACY, which was published as a Five Star/Cengage hardcover, Thorndike large print hardcover, Harlequin paperback, and e-book in all formats from Novel Fox, has been selected to have an audio publication as well. For me, this is what I hope for as a writer, to reach more readers, build a readership.
What are your thoughts? Does the e-book revolution thrill you as a reader and/or as an author or do you still prefer print books?