Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wiz Words April 10, 2012

Electronic Publishing vs. Print

We’re frequently asked our opinion on electronic books (ebooks) versus print books. Is there an advantage of electronic over print? Is it a personal preference? Can I have both?

First, let me tell you about a recent letter to the editor in my small town newspaper. I live in a bedroom community of a large city. My town is growing by leaps and bounds, including the requisite strip malls and shopping centers being added to the landscape. Not that I mind. It beats driving into the city for my shopping, what with gas now over $4 a gallon. But I digress. A senior citizen wrote a rather surly letter, asking why there wasn’t a book store in our newest shopping center. He’d even called the management company of the center to ask and was told that no bookstore wanted to put a brick and mortar store in there because it wasn’t feasible. Mr. Senior Citizen was outraged and asked, “Don’t these people think the citizens of our town can read?”

Well, of course they think we can read! But what are we reading on? Paper? Not so much anymore. Yes, this seems contradictory since I just admitted I read my bi-weekly community newspaper without fail. But that’s only because it has information I can’t get online, like which sidewalks are getting paved next, what the score was at the local fireman’s softball game, and whose barking dog ticked off which neighbor. This is important stuff to know and I can’t imagine why it’s not online. But I digress.

More and more readers are getting their information online and reading books, newspapers and periodicals on some sort of reading device. Whether a Kindle, Nook, iPad, fancy Smartphone, computer screen…electronic publishing is shoving the paper print market aside slowly but surely. Fewer people are buying print books and more are buying ebooks. The only time I’ve regretted not having a dead-tree book in my hands (credit goes to an electronic publisher who recently coined that term) was on a recent flight when I was instructed to ‘turn off all electronic devices until we reach ten thousand feet’. I was reduced to reading Sky Mall magazine located in the pocket of the seat in front of me. I almost bought some of the crap advertized, there were so many things I knew I couldn’t live without. Oops. Digression.

 In a nutshell, I’ll list a few reasons why you definitely need to consider ebook publication instead of, or in addition to print. I’ll credit Kim Komando with a recent article (online, natch) that highlights many of the same things I’m saying, Why Ebooks? Granted, she’s referring mainly to instructional and technical ebooks, but the reasons are the same.

 1. They’re environmentally friendly (see dead-tree book reference   
2.  They’re instantly available. Yes, browsing in a bookstore is one of life’s simple pleasures. But think of the extra time you’ll have to read!
3.  Ebooks tend to be cheaper. Kim Komando outlines the reasons behind that.
4.  With an electronic reader, you can carry your bookshelf in your purse or travel bag. Ditch the bookshelf! It makes more room for that gargantuan TV you’ve always wanted anyway.
5.  Electronic publishing allows authors who may not have an opportunity to publish with a print publisher get their book out there. Print publishers are picky (for a multitude of justifiable reasons) and contract only a minute number of books they receive. Electronic publishers are more apt to take a chance on newbie authors or authors writing something not quite ‘mainstream’.
6.  Plus more reasons that we can discuss at a later date. Add your own in the comment section. Or agree to disagree. That’s cool, too.

In short, electronic publishing is the future of publishing. I believe print books, like vinyl records, will never go away, but the availability of titles in paper print version will be fewer and fewer, and more expensive as well. Letting go of the I must see my book in print or I’m not a real author! mentality is a must if you want to move forward in the publishing world.

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