Writers Taking on 2011: Part III

(Haven’t read Part I or Part II?)

The biggest thing the publishing industry needs to do is follow the pattern of integration. If people want to read books on their phones, lap tops, iPad, Kindles, or Nooks, make sure to have a system in place that can pump those formats out. And not just new releases. The entire portfolio of available books needs to be digitized and made available on multiple devices. And make it cheaper for consumers. If a paperback version of a book costs $7.99 in a bookstore, it should not cost the same or more in eBook format, as many publisher’s are attempting to do. Consumers have already begun to boycott those publishers. There is no reason that the book should not cost at least half of its physical price when made digital. The most expensive parts of the process have been excluded: the printing and distribution.

Readers  should be able to download any book they want at a low price, with just the press of a button. It should reach any of their devices within minutes, and have the money automatically deducted from their account. Devices like the Kindle and the Nook have begun to do this, but the mobile phone and tablet industries are also prime targets in which to roll this system out. Nothing, however, can be accomplished without the enthusiastic support of the publishing companies. If retailers like Amazon or Apple’s iBook app have to fight the publisher’s over price and format, than the industry will get left behind.

“The publishing industry is a strange, slow beast, and I’m honestly not quite sure what else they should be doing to keep up with everyone else.” Claire LeGrande, an asprining author and librarian, says. “It seems to me that, aside from scattered efforts here and there by various publishers, the majority of change in the publishing industry is carried out by indie authors who take it upon themselves to publish and market their own books.”

If the publishing industry can get the digitization system down and the price point worked out, it can then move on to making a multimedia reading experience. Pictures, sound bites, video clips, direct links, the ability to share content across a number of social media sites, even make characters and authors a huge presence in social media…the possibilities are exciting, and they continue to grow every day. With this cut in printing and distribution costs, publishers can focus on finding a wider array of talent: writers, editors, illustrators, designers, programmers. This talent can take the content and the experience to the next level, target untapped markets, and push past the limit of the traditional page.

Amazon.com recently released their first graphic novel for the Kindle eReader device. The comic, called Dusk World, is not only picture-based, but also interactive. Amazon says the book “combines interactivity with a graphic novel. The story takes place in Dusk City and combines crime, mystery, superhero and classic noir elements to create a vivid landscape full of colorful characters for you to interact with. The choices you make as Agent Patriot will lead you down different paths that determine the fate of both Dusk City and the world, not to mention Agent Patriot himself.” This is the next step in the reading experience. The graphic novel is an affordable $4.99, available for immediate download, and interactive.

McGuire agrees that being interactive is the way to go, but feels it can get expensive. “I think publishers should focus on making great books – and start thinking about opening up their content to others who can do smart things with those books,” he says. “There is lots of talk about enhanced ebooks and apps – but those are expensive, and complex. I think the successful publishers are those who: a) publish books they truly love and b) are open to partnering with tech developers and innovative start-ups who are pushing the boundaries of what books are.”

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