Bestselling Book Publishing Industry in 2020
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To EBook or Not to EBook?
Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in its uptake of eBooks. The Australian eBook publishing boom is coming in 2020 but that still does not mean the end of the printed book
This comment, apart from making me laugh, also makes me think about some of the current publishing industry dilemmas in a different light. Many people seem to view the whole publishing/eBook/distribution/digital rights management hoo-ha that the industry is facing as a terrible thing - one that is going to spell the end of the world for books, writing and creativity. I disagree.
I think that the brave world new world of eBooks may have the same impact on some people as television had on Groucho Marx - to make them recognise the value of what they have. Don't get me wrong - I think that the digital/eBook market is a very important part of the future. Its looming presence is already contributing towards redefining the publishing industry (god knows, it's been needed for some time in my humble opinion). It also means that people (and not just learned authors and literary minded souls) are talking about books and that the old fashioned and slightly antiquated publishing industry is now newsworthy. Even technology geeks and venture capitalists are sitting up and taking notice of a whiff of adventure in the otherwise dry and dusty air of book publishing.
It is also great that readers are saying - yes I want eBooks, yes I would like to read short stories on my phone on the train and yes I would like animated kids books on my iPad to read to the kids at night - but even better that many are saying "I don't want to lose printed books completely".
A dedicated reader will read whatever happens. Their buying patterns may be changing - they want the ability to buy online when it suits them but they also want to browse in good bookstores when they choose. They are happy to buy a new device to read eBooks on but they are also happy to pick up an old book at home they've had for years.
Maybe new readers (as in people, not devices!) will emerge because of eBooks/digital technology. Teenagers who currently live in the land of Facebook and mobile phones might start reading because it becomes trendy to download eBooks. Later in life, maybe they'll come full circle and develop their interest for eBooks into one for printed books - or whatever is the next phase for books. The important thing is that they started reading.
Even the Federal Government is taking some action - albeit slowly. The Book Industry Strategy Group, announced by Innovation Minister Kim Carr earlier this year and headed by Barry Jones, is still ploughing through all of the issues relating to "...how the industry must evolve in order to prosper in the new digital landscape, and develop business models to effectively integrate digital and traditional printed book production". Barry Jones has said that he thought Australia was lagging behind in its acceptance of eBooks but has commented that "It's been very typical of Australia that we're rather late to take up the technology but when we do, the take-up is very fast".
Next year will be HUGE for eBooks in Australia but I have no doubt that those Christmas stockings will be stuffed with printed books as well as eReading devices for many years to come.