Publishing and Opportunities

I’m a bit wary of some of the “pros” that are made for the ebook format.  A friend of mine is involved in new media publishing, and just returned from New York where he met with publishers (his 2nd trip there).  I don’t have solid numbers to back up my claim, but it is my understanding that manufacturing and shipping costs for educational books are a very small percentage of the overall cost.  In this sense, the paperless aspect of the ebook is not that great of an advantage.  It’s my understanding that the cheap cost of ebooks from Amazon and competitors is less to do with hardcopy costs and more to do with reduced margins.

There are a lot of unknowns out there in the market right now, I am sure of this.  Publishers everywhere are scratching their heads and wondering where all of this new technology will lead us.  They are all very aware that paper publishing is clearly on a steady, irreversible decline.  They just don’t know what form or model the new market will take.  It’s not a matter of bringing the first venture to market, or having the best venture.  This could easily turn out to be another battle where the ereader equivalent to VHS wins.

Another thing to consider is how the new media (ie ereader) will change the media itself.  Already people are changing their reading habits.  Instead of “sitting down to a good book,” and reading for 2 hours, people are now more inclined to read a few passages, check email, read a few passages, check a webpage, read a few passages, check facebook, etc.  It is bite-sized consumption.  A great analogy to this is the mp3 player.  What big difference would a person recognize if they compared a teenager listening to a cassette Walkman (remember those?) and an mp3 Walkman?  I can almost guarantee you that the teenager with the mp3 won’t finishing listening to 1/2 of the songs they start, and there will only be a remote chance that they would listen to a whole album.

Just some food for thought, as you contemplate your next eBook venture!

For an interesting podcast on ebooks, check out this CBC Ideas show:

Posted in: Week 06: eBooks