Saturday, August 10, 2013

The next big step for the eBook

We all know that eBook sales have taken over the world. With the availability of a variety of electronic readers, from cell phones to laptops to kindles and tablets, those of us who read (or publish) eBooks have myriad ways to access any format.

Critics, however, are beginning to wonder if the explosive jump in eBooks into the market is about to taper off, if it hasn’t already shown a slowdown. (I don’t agree, but then again, I’m not an expert in the field of theorizing about the future.) The thesis behind the thought is that eBooks, like other popular items, are a fad of sorts and like all fads, they can grow only so far before the market gets saturated, before fans look for some new stimulus, or before the novelty isn’t novel anymore. (Read this interesting article by Cynthia Boris )

Now, traditional print book publishers would probably like nothing better than to have their monopoly on the book market; but let’s face it – they’re never going to get back to where they were. The old model probably won’t die; but it’s going to need some kind of life support.

Let’s look at an example of one instance that can breathed new life into print book sales with no effort on the part of any publisher.

In 1997, Lee Child’s first novel, The Killing Floor, was a best seller. It was (according to Wikipedia) the Anthony Award winner, the Barry Award winne, a Dilys Award nominee and a Macavity Award nominee. Child (nee Jim Grant) went on to pen a number of successful novels.

Then, in 2012, The Killing Floor was retitled as Reacher (after the name of the main character) and was made into a movie starring Tom Cruise (who many distained because he had absolutely no resemblance the main character). Almost simultaneously, the title was reissued under the name Reacher and the book is once again a best seller. (It is ranked 1,850 in Amazon sales rankings and 606 in Barnes and Noble sales rankings as of this writing. The kindle version is ranked #257)

Now, back to that questionable idea of floundering eBook sales. If this is the case, we should be wondering if there’s some way to reverse the trend. And what better way for publishers and authors alike to experience a new direction for their electronic products but to have eBooks made into movies!

I suppose it’s a bit of a pipe dream at this point but I think authors and publishers should send a message loud and clear, something like WAKE UP, HOLLYWOOD, there’s a new gold mine out there just waiting for you to rush into.

Also, perhaps, as Cynthia Boris noted in her article, (quoting Michael Norris, a Simba Information analyst, “We have found that at any given time about a third of e-book users haven’t bought a single title in the last 12 months…. someone isn’t going to buy any more books until they make a dent in reading the ones they have already acquired.”)

Then there’s the free eBook offers that abound, usually fueled by independent publishers who are looking for ways to stimulate sales. Self-styled gurus point out that this is one of the better ways to increase sales of a book – give it away because it will get reviews (very important) and will stimulate word of mouth recommendations, and, well, let’s not get into the reasoning here. The fact is, my eBook readers (my laptop and cell phone) have their share of free electronic books, of which I’ve read one! Yet I’ve read every one of the books I paid money to download.

So I’m thinking Hollywood is the best option. Any ideas how to make this happen?
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