"In 1987 Michael Joyce wrote what was arguably the first eBook, Afternoon, - made available via floppy disk. In 1998 NuvoMedia lauched the first dedicated eBook reader, The Rocket. In 2000 Stephen King released his novel, Bag of Bones, exclusively as an eBook and it sold around 500,000 copies in 48 hours*. Today, in the year 2015, there is an entire event dedicated to eReading known as DBW, or Digital Book World.
Yet, despite the fact that eBooks have been around for a while and don’t seem to be going anywhere, quite a few of the publishers we have spoken to still view eBooks as an “extra” or a “bonus” to their physical book sales. Physical is still seen as the bread and butter of the book business and eBooks as a glamorous, but perhaps unnecessary, counterpart.
These kinds of publishers, the ones dipping their toes into the eBook pool rather than jumping right in, have a right to be cautious. eBook sales are notorious for having periods of rapid growth followed by decline. But does this mean that the e-revolution is over?
By the looks of the DBW agenda, not quite. Attendees this year will have their pick of workshops in topics ranging from metadata to algorithms. Panels will include anything from eBook content production to finding the best eBook retailers. There will be an entire day dedicated to children’s digital publishing (you have no idea how many times I’ve heard that “it just doesn’t make sense to make picture books digital”). Not to mention the speakers from major digital (and print) brands such as Amazon, Apple and many more.
We at Vearsa struggled to come up with topics for our own DBW panels and case studies – not because we were stumped but because there was just too much to cover. Did we want to go with the importance of using eBook analytics to increase sales? Or how updating your metadata for different countries could increase visibility? Maybe we could have gone with how to nail pricing in different territories? In the end we decided to focus on helping publishers understand how to expand into new international territories – something we hope will encompass many of the topics that publishers are interested in.
The moral of this blog is that e-publishing is anything but dead – in fact the new wave is only just beginning, and it is up to publishers to keep up. And DBW is a great place to start. So before you hang up your digital hat, it might be worth it to know what you’ll be missing out on.
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