Monday Ebooks: Oh! It's Only An Ebook! Edition

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There was a very interesting article in Time about the rise of digital publishing and how it might simultaneously revitalize and revolutionize traditional publishing models.

Not that Old Publishing will disappear–for now, at least, it’s certainly the best way for authors to get the money and status they need to survive–but it will live on in a radically altered, symbiotic form as the small, pointy peak of a mighty pyramid. If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devices, with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness. (Unpaid amateur editors have already hit the world of fan fiction, where they’re called beta readers.) The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses.

We’re certain that paragraph horrified a sizable percentage of our Gentle Readers, but have courage: we’re not anywhere near there yet. For authors who want to make a living at writing, publishing through an established company, and making use of their editing, production, marketing, and distribution services to actually get the books in front of buyers, is still the best way to go, because buyers browsing in brick and mortar bookstores still buy the most books. Self-publishing can lead to better things, but for most writers, it simply does not. However, ebooks are becoming an increasingly important part of publishing. If the manufacturers can figure out how to get the prices of the dedicated readers into the $100 and less range, get rid of DRM, straighten out the formats, and get the books around the price of mass-market paperbacks (except possibly for the very latest releases), electronic books will take off the way electronic music has. But we’re not there yet, and progress has been slow.

In the meantime, if you’re curious about ebooks, try some of Jane Austen’s books, available for free in various ebook formats at Girlebooks, Manybooks, Feedbooks, or Project Gutenberg.

And stay tuned: there will be some news of interest about ebooks from AustenBlog very soon! 😀

ETA: Because as Martha would say, complete sentences are a GOOD thing.