The swing to eBooks, online newspapers, and textbook PDFs is impossible to ignore. Across the country there has been a shift away from physical products that you can store on your shelf and towards texts that you can access from any mobile device. The ease of access and lowered price point is making eBooks not only convenient to the reader, but also a necessity for the modern author.
It is no surprise that eBook sales gained momentum after their introduction, but what may come as a shock is that eBook sales have been slowing since 2013 (Trachtenberg). In fact, in the first five months of 2015 eBook sales have been declining (Kozlowski). Instead paperback sales are seeing a boost. Could this be the end for eBooks?
Not likely. EBooks are convenient. Consumers can fit thousands of books into one device and access them anywhere. Authors too have taken to eBooks, signing contracts with big names like Amazon to get their name out or to continue a line of books that publishers are no longer interested in. EBooks have opened up a niche for authors to publish what they want to see in print with less oversight. So, there will be pressure from both authors and readers to continue eBooks.
The other side of the written word triad is the publisher, of course. And I think this is where we will begin to see the most change. Publishers have traditionally been the gatekeepers of quality, content and presentation. However, with more sources for authors to put out their product, publishers will have to race to keep up.
I expect a shift away from the big publishing houses, back to indie publishers that are willing to work with authors to see the book the author had in mind. These small publishers are already including eBooks as part of the deal. Authors want to write their content, not something diluted by what publishers think will sell, and indie publishers are giving them just that. Authors looking out for their fan bases can publish the next book in a series even if their original publisher isn’t sold on the idea. Smaller publishing houses will be the wave of the future, as authors find they no longer get caught up in the machine.
Publishing is one of the oldest industries in the world, but has staunchly refused to grow with each passing decade. The rise of eBooks was the first wave, but it was only a taste of what’s coming next. Authors have seen new outlets for publishing and they’re not willing to give them back. Gone are the days of the author waiting hungrily for their book to hit shelves. Publishing houses that can keep up with new ideas about where, when and what kind of content an author wants to produce will see dividends on the other side. These will be the houses that give us a new face to publishing, one that has been too long in coming.
Kozlowski, Michael. "E-Book Sales Plummet All Over the World in 2015." Good EReader EBook Audiobook and Digital Publishing News. Oakbranch Media Inc., 16 July 2015. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.
Trachtenberg, Jeffery. "E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contracts." WSJ. Wall Street Journal, 03 Sept. 2015. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.