by Josh Tremino
At first, I hated the idea of the ebook. It didn’t make sense to me. First, you had to buy a new device. That seemed ludicrous right there. Why would someone pay a couple hundred dollars to read a book? I mean, the codex has worked great for a very long time. It’s reasonably light, portable, and doesn’t require batteries. Granted, a reader could hold hundreds of books, but when do I need more than two? And when I saw the price point, it made even less sense. Many publishers sell their ebooks for about ten dollars per piece. That’s actually a price increase compared to many paperbacks.
I thought the whole idea would fade. And thus far, I’ve been proven wrong.
I don’t see the ebook as a trend; they are clearly here to stay. People are willing to pay for the readers (which will probably evolve into a subset of tablet computers), and even if they aren’t, ebooks work as a part of cell phones.
When I first bought my smart phone, I expected to send messages and check Facebook, but what’s surprised me most is the amount of reading I do. Even though the screen is tiny, I read a lot of newspaper articles and even some short stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if I started downloading books, especially since many are very inexpensive.
Then as a writer, one of my biggest concerns about the publishing industry is its ability to hold onto mindshare. People have so many entertainment options now, way more than thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago. In the fifties, writers had to compete with TV and radio. Now we have to compete with TV, radio, a plethora of downloads, streaming games, traditional video games, and anything else capable of taking up someone’s time. Readers have a lot of options, and they are routinely drawn to new things. New technologies look sexy and cool. It’s easy to get attracted to them.
Thus ebooks offer a new opportunity. I was at Best Buy last week and saw a whole table dedicated to ereaders. Books can have a certain cachet again. They can be sleek and new and neat because their technology has been upgraded. That alone will draw in more people, thus making people likely to view cell phones and books through the same lens. Hopefully.
Another important factor for ebooks is the access it offers to young writers. Right now I have three books under contract with three small publishers. These publishers aren’t risking a whole lot by working with me. They edit my book and help me promote it. But even then, most of the promotion will be my responsibility. They can take a chance and offer me the legitimacy of their brands because they don’t have to risk thousands of dollars on publishing and transportation fees. That’s huge.
Don’t get me wrong, the traditional book isn’t going to go away. As a piece of technology, it’s too efficient. But ebooks aren’t going anywhere either and they are going to have a huge impact on publishing.
Josh Tremino is a fellow author at Rebel Ink Press