Those hoping for insights into recreational drug use, sorry to disappoint. The ‘e’ in the title is for ‘electronic,’ specifically the electronic delivery of books. It’s a hot topic, all across the board—publishers, authors, editors, agents, booksellers and readers are in this boat together and how it’s going to rock is anybody’s guess.
The growing popularity of eBooks is viewed in mixed light. Not everyone is jumping up and down, but I am! What a fabulous opportunity for so many reasons! First up, the eBook is instant. With the right eReader, books, magazines and blogs can be accessed in seconds, any time of the day or night. And, as our Captain said the other day, eBooks will never go out of print! (Think about that!) Also many classical titles are available to the public free of charge on websites like gutenberg.org. From Dickens to Poe to Wilde to Shelley, a literary world is at our fingertips. eReaders—the devices used to view eBooks—can store thousands of novels and textbooks, are easy to carry anywhere, light on the eyes and perfect for commutes, study and holidays. For the sight impaired, eReaders are a boon with ‘text to speak’ functionality.
Another exciting aspect of electronic delivery is the Hypertext link. eBooks can have endnotes or glossary links formatted right into the text and they can also be presented with nonlinear links where readers choose the direction they want the narrative to take. In essence hypertext provides an opportunity for readers to ‘recreate’ the work as the relationship between the author, the reader, the text and the physical form of the book evolves. Another bonus is eBooks don’t require trees, and remember, the technology for eDelivery is in its infancy. It’s going to get better and better!
Yet with all these benefits, there are still unknowns. For example, which eReader is best and will it work with all formats? How will eBook sales affect the physical book market? Mark Davis, director of the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne, says E-books, if anything, should help rather than hinder sales of traditional books, as well as become a phenomenon in their own right. But what about availability? The World Wide Web is just that—worldwide, yet most publishing contracts are restricted to certain countries. Issues of illegal downloading are in question and publishers and eTailer business models (see Macmillan vs. Amazon.com) are not yet in alignment. With less than 3% of Australians buying eBooks, the eBook wave is just a ripple but if I know the internet, a tsunami could be on its way in 2010.
Are you into ‘e’? Bi-liberphilic? (love both physical and eBooks) Do you have an eReader? Which kind? Authors, are you excited about seeing your books ePublished? Editors, do you like working electronically? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The Spell of Rosette is on Amazon Kindle with the rest of the Quantum Enchantment series soon to follow.
Kim Falconer is the author of the Quantum Enchantment trilogy, which starts with The Spell of Rosette. The other two books in the trilogy are Arrows of Time and Strange Attractors, which is out this month!