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Is This the Future of Books?

I remember as a child discovering the joy of reading and consumed books about pirates and undersea adventures with coral atolls, turquoise transparent seas and hidden treasure that captured my imagination and took me to worlds far beyond my suburban existence.Is This the Future of Books?

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Borrowing numerous books from the school library saw me inducted into the library hall of fame due to my constant attendance and high reading activity and my library card was replaced often due to frequent book borrowings.

In the evenings after lights out I quietly took a torch or my bedside lamp and hid beneath the covers and proceeded to read until my eyes closed or parents threatened to discover my illegal childish passion despite the threat of punishment for breaking the strict bedtime darkness curfew.

Reading for me is a passion and there is often 3-4 books on the go from fiction to professional books that challenge my thinking and push my boundaries.

Books for me take me on a journey whether that is one of fantasy or ideas that challenge my thinking or inspire me to go beyond my comfort zone. If I can glean one good idea out of one book then that is time well spent.

The good old inspiring book used to be in one format and that was the analog medium of paper.

What is a Book?

The web has transformed the publishing and delivery of knowledge and ideas and a book is now much more than papyrus or paper.

Books now come in many digital and analog formats.

  • eBooks
  • PDF Books
  • Kindle books
  • Hardcover books
  • Paperback books
  • Interactive books
  • iPad books
  • iPhone books
  • Tablet books
  • Nook books

These formats give you choices and allow you to publish the book in channels where readers are hanging out online and on mediums that are carried in the handbag, briefcase or pocket

Is This The Future of Books?

This presentation at a TED talk by Mike Matas demonstrates the first full-length interactive book for the iPad (while at Apple, Mike Matas helped write the user interface for the iPhone and iPad. Now with Push Pop Press, he’s helping to rewrite the electronic book).

(Thanks to my fabulous friend and blogger Mark  Schaefer for bringing this technology to my attention)

This maybe represents the future of the next generation digital book but the resources, content and media needed to populate and produce this book will make it a niche product. The book will still be something that can be written by one person not a team of engineers and video producers.

Is the Convenience of the eBook Enough?

I love the convenience of the Kindle but I find it strangely disconcerting to not know exactly where I am up to or how far it is to the end of the book. I also miss the the texture of the paper that a Kindle cannot provide me. The hard plastic of the Kindle casing creates perturbation but yet I persist because if  I want a book, I can have it ‘now’ and I don’t have to wait for Amazon to deliver by courier or hope to find it at my local bookstore.  I cannot underline or highlight with the confidence that a paper book provides me. Reading online and reading many blogs that connect me to ideas and concepts that excite, delight and disturb my intellect are an ongoing challenge to my comfortable habit driven, paper centric decades of traditional reading practices.

The book industry is in turmoil with publishers and book stores closing and the world of publishing is evolving and in the middle of  reinvention. Seth Godin with his ‘Domino Project‘ is pushing the boundaries of what a book is and what the price points should be.

What is a Book Worth?

Valuing the worth of a book is becoming more confusing by the month as self publishing and digital publishing growing by 300% in just 12 months and pricing models are being tested and trialled to define price pressure points and determine distribution boundaries.

On the question of price?

  • Do I pay $4.99 for a Kindle book or $9.99?
  • Is a “How To” PDF book worth $99?
  • Is a hardcover book worth $49 or $59?
  • Is the appropriate value of a paperbook $19.99 or $29.99?

These questions all come into play when authors now have ready access to a web centric global market that is measured in the billions and the law of scarcity is being replaced by the principle of abundance.

Is a 400 Page Book an Obligation?

A 400 page book is an ‘obligation’ for a society that is time poor. Do Gen Y have the time to read or enjoy a book for a quiet 2 hours when everything is about ‘now’ and 2 minute YouTube videos and 400 word blog posts? The digital age that wants it instantly and cannot wait is permeating and changing our culture habits and paradigms.

A $9.99 book delivered in a Kindle format is an ‘impulse buy’ and can be sold in the tens of thousands. If you don’t like it then it has only cost you the price  of a couple of cups of coffee.

Niche Books are Now a Profitable Venture

Books that were not worth publishing when distribution was expensive and markets were local can be extremely profitable when digital distribution costs on the web approach zero and a niche in your city in the 100’s becomes a global market in the tens of  thousands.

Bloggers with audiences and subscribers in the hundreds of thousands can take micro content (posts) and then edit and aggregate and produce macro content (books). No longer do you need to wait for a publisher to discover you and “pick you” to publish, you can curate, connect and lead you own tribe of fans, readers and viewers and wrangle your own audience. The social media aware author and blogger who understands the power and leverage of having 1,000’s of people ‘Follow’ you on Twitter and ‘Like’ you on Facebook can have a tribe of fans that can launch and promote their own book without waiting to be picked by a publisher.

Maybe a self published $9.99 Kindle or eBook that is a impulse purchase and sold to a potential digital global audience of billions as the world becomes increasingly connected on fixed and mobile devices is a good idea. Maybe a very profitable book can be sold for $2.99 if you sell it in the tens of thousands.

What do you think?

More reading

Image by libraryman

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