While I continue to wonder why the six major publishing houses don’t get together and produce their own game-changing e-book reader that they control, I also think it’s critical that they do a better job of explaining the finances of of the e-book to the general public.
The industry cannot survive if readers believe that an e-book should cost a dollar. More has to be said about the true cost of producing a book, electronic or otherwise.
The New York Times did a decent job of explaining it about a week ago, but the publishing houses must take the lead in promoting a better understanding to the average reader.
Sometimes it feels as if the publishing industry is akin to the music and automotive industries. Rather than embracing technology, investing in the digital age and getting ahead of the story, they seem to be more interested in clinging to outdated models. In discussions with various people in the industry, I am constantly surprised by their lack of understanding when it comes to social networks, online media, and technology in general.
Just three years ago, I was copyediting SOMETHING MISSING by hand, using a green pen. When it came time to edit UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO, I was doing so digitally, but this was something new for my publisher. Prior to a year or so ago, hundreds of pages of manuscript were still being shipped between editors and authors, full of red and green marks.
This struck me as utterly bizarre, especially considering my friends and my agent had already made their revision suggestions digitally and had been doing so since I had begun writing the book. Beginning the editing process with my publishing house was like stepping back into the Stone Age.
In a perfect world, or at least in my perfect world, my publisher would hire me as their chief technologist, responsible for informing and infusing the business with the technology required to push them into the forefront of the digital age.
I think I’d be pretty good at it. But perhaps they already have a well-qualified individual working hard on this.
I certainly hope so.