E-book: A New Hope

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A long time ago, in a publishing house far far away, the novel was created. It was a time of unrest for the publishing empire as they sought to grow their industry, promote authors, create an audience and inspire the world. The empire grew and prospered and many got rich, some of them authors.

The empire changed though; the e-book arrived, promising a new age in the empire. Rather than embrace the e-book, the empire struck out and became recalcitrant. A small band of mid-listers and indie authors formed a rebellion embracing the ways of the e-book.

Honestly who can understand major entertainment companies? The music industry, the movie industry, the publishing industry, they are all guilty of resistance to change. A new way to deliver their products to their clients, while cutting out costs and intermediaries, is handed to them on a platter and what do they do? Embrace it or demonise it?

Sure, the music industry took a hit on sales because they no longer controlled the medium of consumption. But does anyone remember what was topping the charts the year after mp3s hit it big in 1999? The answer is ‘N Sync, Madonna, Celine Dion and Britney Spears. Definitely worth buying their albums. The point being that the music industry was late to the party and they combined it with generic pop music releases. That’s like mixing prescription drugs with alcohol only to realise that it doesn’t actually get you wasted.

When you actually take a look at the music industry you don’t see the new market as being plagued by downloads, but rather enhanced by them. Aside from that initial euphoric rush on downloads the music market eventually woke up next to Britney Spears and realised what a big mistake that last few years had been. They alighted that train wreck and downloads are now not really impacting upon real sales. Sure the music industry will point out that downloads are still high, but who would honestly pay for a Britney Spears album? I’m surprised anyone downloads her music. Maybe they have the Chinese firewall technicians downloading terrible western music to keep them focused on not allowing the west in.

The people who download music these days were either going to browse and buy or never buy (studies are showing this more and more in the past 3 to 5 years), so e-media is a good thing for sales now. I can confirm that downloads have actually increased my buying habits. It has also given me easy access to a much larger market of music. My local music store never used to stock much in the way of Pirate Death Metal (yes that is a real genre), but now I can download an album, see if the Arrr’s are rocking and then buy the album to support the artists and their scurvy mates. With all the options now with e-books, free samples, cheap prices, access virtually anywhere, and the fact that you can find something other than James Paterson’s latest, makes e-books a great new market.

So e-books are the New Hope. Then can boldly go…….. sorry wrong Star Something.

Right now the e-book is booming at a whopping ~10% of the market, definitely time for publishers to worry. They have a Death Star, a fleet of Imperial Cruisers and the e-books have Harrison Ford. Great things are coming, even if it is ruined eventually by a crystal skull.


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