“E” is for Experiment (Not E-books)

by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development, Digital Book World

The year 2010 will undoubtedly be the year of “e,” but it’s not going to stand for e-book; it will stand for experimentation. Experimentation with contracts, rights, formats and distribution channels; experimentation that will certainly include e-books, and rightfully so, but they won’t be the central focus — for publishers nor readers.

Upon the Kindle’s introduction in 2007, Jeff Bezos famously asked: “The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?”

Three years, and at least five generations of technological evolution later, there is still no e-reader that comes close to duplicating the efficiency or practicality (or affordability) of the printed book, and while e-book sales are growing, they still represent a modest fraction of overall sales, and in many niches are completely irrelevant. Based on the offerings displayed at CES last week, it’s highly unlikely the mainstream tipping point will be forthcoming in the near future.

…read the entire post at Publishing Perspectives.

NOTE: One of the most anticipated sessions at Digital Book World is The eBook Tipping Point: The New Issues It Creates:

A panel featuring Michael Cader, Publishers Lunch; Larry Kirshbaum, Literary Agent; Ken Brooks, Cengage Learning; and Evan Schnittman, Oxford University Press. Moderated by Mike Shatzkin, The Idea Logical Company.

eBook sales are still a single-digit percentage of most trade publishers’ sales and only creep into double-digits for some of the new titles coming out. Even so, digital change has already been disruptive, forcing many publishers to rethink their release windows, their sales terms and tactics, and their entire approach to marketing.

One can only imagine what changes the industry will face when the eBook percentage doubles or triples from where it is now, which recent history suggests might occur in a relatively short time period. Library lending could threaten single copy sales, agents might be splitting off eBook rights when they make print deals, and territoriality might be eliminated in the digital book arena.

How will publishers react to all of that?

If you haven’t registered yet, what are you waiting for?

Register now for Digital Book World

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