Mythconceptions: Debunking the E-Book Hype with Danny O. Snow

Danny O. SnowThe following is a preview of an upcoming interview with Danny O. Snow, founder of Unlimited Publishing, who promises to debunk several myths about e-publishing. The podcast will be released on Monday, February 8, 2010.

In 2010, the long anticipated migration of periodicals from print to Web is undeniably underway. Major daily newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor are already replacing unprofitable (and environmentally unfriendly) print editions with leaner, greener, more timely online distribution. As much as newsprint is a beloved institution, most informed observers agree that the transition from paper-n-ink to bits-n-bytes for newspapers and magazines makes good sense in today’s world – and certainly in tomorrow’s. It’s a better match between form and content.

In the book world too, the word on the street these days is e-Books, e-Books, and more e-Books. The scuttlebutt among book publishers is that they must rapidly jump on the e-Book bandwagon, or risk getting left in the dust. Having observed how record labels were blindsided by music downloading over the last decade, most book publishers are taking this risk seriously.

One motive for publishers to embrace e-Books is that sales are growing exponentially. “Convert from print to digital distribution,” they hear, “and tap a booming new market while earning as much per copy as you did with tree-Books… maybe more!” But early adopters are now learning that this widely circulated notion may be overstated for the moment, as reported below.

Likewise, book publishers are told that the emerging e-Book industry standard EPUB format is a kind of silver bullet. “Convert your production files from PDF to EPUB,” they hear, “and your books will almost magically become marketable for reading on nearly every conceivable electronic device from the Kindle to the iPhone, and everything in between!” Like the misconception that e-Books are rapidly supplanting tree-Books in the marketplace, in 2009 the full promise of EPUB is still unrealized.

This report, without denying that the time has definitely come for book publishers to take e-Books seriously, will debunk some of the more prevalent myths about e-Books under current market conditions and technological realities.

  • Myth #1: e-Books: will soon overtake tree-Books in the marketplace
  • Myth #2: EPUB format is a cure-all
  • Myth #3: e-Books Will Always be Hard to Publish
  • Myth #4: The Market for e-Books is Peaking

A senior research fellow of the Society for New Communications Research and a board member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, serving thousands of publishers across North America and around the world, Danny Snow admits that e-Books solve serious problems in traditional publishing: overprinting; the cost of shipping books back and forth between warehouses and stores during a time of climbing fuel prices and growing focus on air quality; and the bad bookstore practice of over-ordering, then returning unsold books are all eliminated by digital distribution. These benefits virtually insure continuing growth for e-Books.

The world of publishing is changing in 2010, with real and lasting results after years of wishful thinking. Music, radio and TV, newspapers and magazines are already firmly shifting to online distribution. Books will follow soon, though no one yet knows exactly when, or in which of several possible directions… or whether e-Books will evolve as a separate market entirely.

The landscape for e-Book publishing is growing and changing by the day. It isn’t easy to navigate yet, due to a myriad of lingering uncertainties about hardware, software and market factors. But the future potential of e-Books is clear, and points toward leaner, greener and more efficient ways for publishers to reach readers in the near future.

Please return to Beyond the Book starting Monday, February 8, 2010, to hear this important discussion!

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