This article from Computerworld caught my eye over the weekend. I think most of his six points are valid, and they’re worth discussing:
1. Bundled multimedia books. I couldn’t agree more! Publishers could charge slightly more for a package that includes the hardcover, the ebook and an audio download. This gives consumers the power to consume their content in whichever way is most convenient. And, we publishing folk need to recognize that convenience is what motivates most buyers.
2. Ebooks that can be revised and corrected. I think this one is coming, and it was presaged by Amazon’s unfortunate 1984 incident! With the power to push out changes over the air, books can be easily revised and updated. With the technology available, and with readers expecting this sort of benefit from this new medium, I think we’ll see this as soon as publishers start seeing ebooks not as books, but as their own separate product.
3. Audio books that can be borrowed electronically. Why not? Doable, but someone needs to take enough interest to get it done.
4. Social books. Again, the technology is available. And, as we all know, nothing sells books like word of mouth. If readers can begin to share their thoughts quickly and easily, I see a lot of the book club readers migrating to ebooks.
5. eBooks that are published ahead of the print edition. Not going to happen anytime soon, unless Amazon and others relent on the $9.99 price point. Or, if as the author says, this is only available to those who buy multimedia bundles. And, I disagree about it being “bad enough that the editing and production process takes a year.” The long gestation period for books improves their quality.
6. Cheaper audio books. I don’t really agree here. There are too many parties involved in the production for even the digital download price to come down significantly.
As always, feel free to tell me I’m wrong! And do read the original article, as he goes into each of these a bit. And to publishers, I say this: let’s address these issues before they’re addressed for us. Only by being aggressive and progressive will we protect our business.