Tuesday, April 2, 2013

ELEPHANT IN ROOM: WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF BOOKS?



~WILL ANY BOOKS BE MADE OUT OF PAPER FIVE OR TEN YEARS OR IS THAT JUST WISHFUL THINKING? 


~WILL QUALITY SUFFER NOW THAT EVERYBODY ON THE PLANET CAN PUBLISH UN-VETTED EBOOKS AND OTHER CONTENT ONLINE? 

~GIVEN THE LURE OF CHEAP EBOOKS, CHEAP APPS, AND FREEBIES, WILL IT BE POSSIBLE TO MAKE A LIVING AS AN AUTHOR? 

~HOW CAN ANYBODY FIND OUR BOOKS AMIDST THE DELUGE? 

~DO KIDS LEARN MORE FROM EBOOKS OR LESS?
  
~WILL OUR SACRED LIBRARIES WHISK THEMSELVES AWAY FROM PRINT? 
 
Can’t help but wonder about such things seeing as it’s our livelihood and all, so I just did some gleaning to see where things stand. With that in mind, here are three comments typical of last year’s attitudes, plus a synopsis of seven new comments that were published just yesterday.

OLD (well, sorta)


Jeremy Greenfield, editorial director of Digital Book World In January 2012, he noted a study that produced the following results: “Given the choice between reading e-books or print books, children prefer e-books... Children who read e-books also retain and comprehend just as much as when they read print books.”  But he did notice that kids reading books with lots of bells and whistles tended to get distracted.

WIRED - In April, they said that publishers were convinced they had to evolve and were hustling to make e-books more immersive.  They hoped that multi-media experiences would be the coming thing.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center in New York - By June, their own study partially backed up Greenfield, showing that kids who read enhanced ebooks "recalled significantly fewer narrative details than children who read the print version of the same story.” It seems that that all those extra features really were distracting.
 

NEW (From the Washington Post)


Multiple award winning novelist Jennifer Miller says that her latest book took 7 years to write, but awards and great reviews alone weren’t enough to get noticed.  Competing with the 60,000 titles published each year is so hard lately that if your book doesn’t sell right away you’re a goner.  So she has become a marketing strategist, an entrepreneur, and a publicist rolled into one.

Publisher David Miller says the roles of various media—books, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and journals used to be distinct and didn’t compete with each other, which was great for their bottom lines.  But now the roles are blurred, anything can morph into a book, and everyone is competing against everyone else.

Indie Bookseller Marc LaFramboise says although it’s cheap and easy to produce e-books online, hardly any of them make a dent in the market. Promos via social media play a big role, but it’s impossible to tell why some books fall flat while others soar. One good thing? It’s cheap to put once-popular OP books and backlist titles online. Another good thing? He sells those titles on his website.

Writing teacher Richard Peabody says tons of people still want to become authors, but most of them are introverts and the necessity of marketing cries out for extroverts.
 
Book reviewer Mark Athetakis prefers books made the old fashioned way.  He likes to write notes in the margins and quickly thumb through the pages to find parts of the story he missed, and you can’t do that with a Kindle.
 
Librarian Ginnie Cooper says people are using the library more than ever to get hold of genuine books, to see programs for kids, to access ebooks online, and to take out audio books and DVD’s.

Literary Agent Raphael Sagalyn thinks books from the big publishers still drive “national conversation.”  He is deluged with submissions but says the barriers to entry are higher than ever, so ebooks are a great option (though million dollar successes are very few).  He also says that with publishers it’s all about the money and the entire thrust is “Will it sell?”

Until the cloud rolled in, the publishing world had stayed pretty much the same forever. But these days we’re rushing into unknown territory at breakneck speed, never knowing for sure what’s next. Now that everyone wants open access to content for free and science is making all things possible, can we still plan ahead intelligently?  The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

4 comments:

Vicki Cobb said...

Excellent post, Roz--something a lot of people have been thinking about. As to the Cooney study about how "enhanced" material on devices produces less retention-- that doesn't surprise me. I wrote a post about it last year. This may interest you: http://educationupdate.com/vickicobb/2011/04/can-i-please-have-your-undivided-attention.html

Loreen Leedy said...

Rosalyn, one thing I've been doing is experimenting with alternate ways to deliver educational content in addition to books. Will post about it on April 10th.

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