E-books have come a long way, from the founding of Project Gutenberg in 1971 to the 2007 breakout success of Amazon’s Kindle, and from “why would you ever want to read a book on a screen?” to “this is an imminent threat that will destroy books as we know them!” Whatever sentimental attachment to traditional books you may feel (and believe me, I’m right there with you), it’s undeniable that e-book technology is in the process of reworking the entire publishing industry and the broader cultural landscape.
As a point of reference, e-book revenue has already surpassed that of hardcover books, though that statistic is misleading if you don’t know that hardbacks are a small segment of the whole publishing industry. Still, it’s probable that in a few years e-books will eclipse print books in total sales. With smartphones, tablets and e-readers all converging at a level of quality and market penetration unheard of even a few short years ago, it’s dizzying to ponder what might come next. Here are just a few of the latest product launches in the e-book world:
1. Booktango publishing platform
Booktango is a free service that seeks to maximize an author’s royalties, so that you receive the full sale price of each e-book title purchased. Though they take no fees, they do offer other paid packages and a la carte publishing services including design, editing, publicity, promotions, signings, advertising and licensing. Booktango will publish your book to all major e-book publishing platforms, including the Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony eReader and smartphones.
2. Livrada e-book gift cards
This is a very interesting concept: an e-book gift card to be sold at Target and other retailers, so that gift-giving won’t lose its personal touch in the era of the e-book. At launch, six titles will be available: Fifty Shades of Grey (of course!) by E.L. James, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel, Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steve Larsoosen, and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. This last book is published by HarperCollins; the rest are Random House titles.
3. idreambooks.com review site
This site, which just launched its full version on July 12th, aims to be the RottenTomatoes of book reviews, aggregating full-length professional reviews of titles and giving an average score for each. The benefits are obvious: by removing the Amazon.com problems of trolling and content-free, seemingly always one-star and five-star reviews, the information on offer will mostly be restricted to useful, thoughtful feedback and reasonably objective scoring, giving a casual browser a good idea of whether a book will be a waste of their time or not.
That’s it for now, but there’s obviously much to come in the world of e-books. All the old barriers of publication are coming down. We’ll just have to wait and see if this new radically open ecosystem creates a more vibrant literary world or a spam-filled Tower of Babel.
Nadia Jones is a freelance higher education blogger who specializes in all topics relating to traditional and accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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