Chris Baty @ Tue, 2010-02-23 14:50
I met ebook evangelist Mark Coker last year at the Tools of Change publishing conference. Very nice guy. Clearly loved ebooks. And when I caught a glimpse of my first ebook display rack (eeeee!) at a local bookstore this week, it made me think of Mark. So I tracked him down and asked him if he'd write something about why ebook publishing might be a good fit for NaNoWriMo participants. Here's what Mark wrote (did I mention he clearly loves ebooks?):
"Ebooks represent the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get your book in the hands of readers.
Ebooks are the fastest growing segment of the book publishing industry. Whereas the overall book industry has been weak in recent years, ebook sales grew 176 percent in 2009, according to the IDPF
Although ebooks only account for about five percent of the overall book market here in the U.S., some independent authors already sell more ebooks than print books. In January, Amazon announced that for books available in both print and Kindle versions, six out of every ten books they sell are ebooks.
Unlike with print books, an ebook author doesn’t need a publisher to gain mainstream distribution into the largest online ebook stores. Amazon’s Digital Text Platform allows authors to publish their books directly into the Kindle store, and my own Smashwords recently announced ebook distribution agreements with all the major online retailers, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Sony. We also have distribution into the online catalogs of mobile platforms such as Stanza on the iPhone, Aldiko on Android phones, and Kobo across all mobile phone devices.
Millions of book buyers now prefer reading ebooks over print books, and this trend is likely to continue in the years ahead.
Several factors are driving the rapid growth of ebooks:
1. Dedicated e-reading devices - Dedicated e-reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble nook and the upcoming Apple iPad have captured the hearts and eyeballs of book lovers. The devices offer crisp screens, adjustable font sizes, and the ability to instantly sample or purchase tens of thousands of books at the click of a button. For many book lovers, screen-reading is now preferable to paper reading.
2. Mobile phones - More people read ebooks on mobile phones than on dedicated e-readers. Free ebook apps like Stanza, Aldiko, eReader, Kobo, FBReader and Word-Player make it possible to read books an any smart phone. Thousands of free ebooks are available, including out-of-copyright classics as well as many new titles published by independent authors. Within the next few years, hundreds of millions of mobile phones will be ebook-ready.
3. Ebooks are more affordable - Most ebooks cost $10.00 or less, so they’re much more affordable than print books.
4. Impulse purchases - Ebooks offer instant gratification to the book buyer. Readers can easily sample or purchase a book at the click of a button, all without driving to the store.
Although ebooks are hot, authors shouldn’t abandon print. Authors should publish their novels as both print books and ebooks. It’s also important for authors to understand that although free services such as Smashwords make it easy to publish and distribute an ebook, it’s still up to the author to get out there and promote their book, otherwise it won’t sell well. For authors looking for marketing ideas they can implement at no cost, I wrote the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305 (free download, no registration required).
Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords, a publisher and distributor of ebooks. He’s also the co-author, along with his wife, of Boob Tube, a novel that explores the dark side of Hollywood celebrity.