Where are we going?
I’ve asked this question of writers, publishers and editors. It seems there’s a very pessimistic view of the future of reading and book production. When ebooks came to the fore, we all said that this is the future of book production. I still believe that’s right but it’s having long term teething problems.
As electronic publishers for over 20 years, the first problem we encountered was the lack of a good ebook device. Several manufacturers produced devices, the first and most well known being the Rocket and Soft Book. Both were developed in Silicon Valley, USA. We visited both these manufacturers and discussed their marketing programme. Somehow, we felt it to be too controlled – lacking in flexibility. Other devices were created and we made more visits but, until Amazon brought out the Kindle, there was nothing which provided an open publishing programme for authors and publishers. Sadly, Amazon also have their weaknesses.
The benefits which come with the ease of self, low cost, publishing in electronic format result in a lack of censorship in terms of writing, quality and moral content. In the case of paper and hard back books, the publisher provides this literary censorship as the cost of production and distribution demands that the books are acceptable to the market. Otherwise, they are not commercially viable.
Clearly, the difficulty in achieving any significant sales in a market which is flooded by much which is inferior, is discouraging for good, aspiring authors. Although they benefit from the ease and low cost of publishing, their chance of being seen and bought by perceptive readers is so slim they give up. Also, much is being overlooked which could make an enjoyable read.
For individuals and small publishers, the means and cost of financing any significant promotion is unsatisfactory and includes high financial risk.
When you think all this is happening on the world wide web, which attracts millions of readers, it stands to reason that there is enough business to satisfy all quality authors. However, if the present situation continues, the finding of these quality authors will be like the finding of the proverbial needle in the hay stack.