Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Ebooks are Hot

The subject of my second column at Huffington Post, clocking in at a healthy 1,200 words, is "Why Ebooks are Hot and Getting Hotter."

For those of you who want an abbreviated version (with a few new details thrown in), here are my top ten reasons:
1. Screen reading now rivals paper - Screens now offer a reading experience almost as good as paper. For some readers, especially those with vision impairments (like all of us over age 40!), screen-reading is often better than paper.

2. Proliferation of multiple high-quality e-reading devices - There are numerous killer e-reading devices, and odds are you're already holding one - your cell phone. Or, you're reading through one - your computer. More cool new e-reading devices and apps announced every month.

3. Oprah Winfrey - Oprah Winfrey sung her praises for the Kindle one year ago and set the ebook market on fire.

4. Early adopters are the new evangelists - Ten years ago, ebooks flopped due to high prices, limited content, poor screens and DRM complexity. Most early adopters were unimpressed. What a difference a decade makes. Today, most people who try an ebook have a "WOW" experience, and go on to evangelize ebooks to their friends.

5. Greater content selection - Hundreds of thousands of ebooks are available today, and many of them are free. Within a few years, it's likely nearly every book known to mankind will be digitized and accessible at a click.

6. Free books are gateway drug - Someone give Michael Hart a Nobel Peace price for creating Project Gutenberg, the non-profit, all-volunteer organization he founded in 1971 to distribute out-of-copyright works as electronic books. While it's difficult to name any single person as the father of e-books, it's fair to say Michael Hart shares DNA with the common ebook.

7. Portable library in the cloud - Books are moving from physical repositories (personal libraries, public libraries, book stores) to virtual repositories (personal online libraries, online public libraries, free online repositories, and online bookstores), and the reading world will be all the better for it. I still love my print books though.

8. The slush pile, digitally liberated - Indie authors are embracing ebooks in a big way. Why wait months or years for your book to be published in print when you can publish now on Smashwords in seconds? Like a giant slush pile of digitally liberated books, thousands of new titles - many born digital - are coming online each year. They comprise gems of undiscovered brilliance alongside works that might make your eyes bleed. Publishers are disintermediated as exclusive gatekeepers, the authors control their own destinies, and the readers decide what books go on to become big hits. Word-of-mouth meets viral social networking, and book marketing will never be the same.

9. Prices dropping - In my last HuffPo column, I argued Why We Need $4.00 Books. Response was generally favorable, though a few pundits thought I was nuts. This morning, I stumbled across this post from my buddy JA Konrath, who makes a strong case for why authors can earn more money self-pubbing low-priced ebooks as opposed to selling ebooks at the higher prices advocated by traditional publishers. Considering I've been preaching the concept of low priced ebooks = greater author profit for 18 months, I'm pleased Joe has proven the concept with real world experience. Check out his post.

10. Impulse buying - Ebooks are super-easy to sample and purchase in bulk. Some of the early data I've seen indicates ebooks readers buy more books. Very exciting. If anyone out there can point me to real data (supporting or contradictory - I want the truth!), let me know and I'll update this post.

If all of the above interests you, then my longer column over at HuffPo might interest you. Check it out, tweet it, share it and tell a friend.

Think 10 reasons aren't enough? Did I miss anything? Feel free to add a #11, #12, etc. below in the comment field.


Anonymous said...

11. They're the ultimate form of democracy!

Ebooks put power in the hands of the people. The digital revolution gave everyone the ability to sort, screen and select their own music and news. No longer will readers be content to placidly select from a limited variety of choices that big companies deem acceptable.

With ebooks, each buyer becomes a publisher.

Anonymous said...

Before bying an ereader, please consider that paper books are more sustainable and better for the environment: