People have preconceptions even about new technology they haven’t tried. It’s the equivalent of offering homeopathic advice you’ve never followed yourself.
The Media Bistro site eBook Newser ran a fun little piece this week debunking what it calls five myths of e-books. These included the often-voiced complaint among the holdouts that e-books don’t smell like real books (how many people smell new books?). They don’t smell like old books, certainly â€“ which means they aren’t mildewing or rotting.
The article followed an announcement a few weeks ago from R.R. Bowker that 74% of book buyers have never bought an eBook, although e-book sales increased by 17% last year. This is going to change, of course. It’s inevitable as more people become comfortable with e-reading devices, and as a younger generation, one accustomed to all things digital, begins to purchase other books other than those required as part of a curriculum.
In the meantime, I’ve created my own 7 Myths of Digital Publishing (it’s a spin-off of our 7 Myths of Book Publishing, part of our Book Publishing 2.0 course).
Myth 1. Digital publishing is only for genre fiction. Actually, while genre fiction â€“ from the likes of, among others, J.A. Konrath, is doing quite well, different kinds of fiction are being noticed (the venerable Best American Short Stories collection featured quite a few stories that were originally published in digital form). Nonfiction works too. Why else would NBC, among others, begin digital-publishing units? To lose money? To ignore readers?
Myth 2. Digital publishing is for people who can’t get a real publishing deal. Actually, many writers with “real” publishing deals are opting to publish digitally first. And many writers who have solid records with traditional, i.e., paper, publishing, are finding that their new releases are selling better in a digital platform than in a hardcover format.
Myth 3. Digital publishing is too difficult. Actually, Amazon makes it ridiculously easy, and Barnes & Noble and others are doing the same. You just need to do a little groundwork to find what’s best for you.
Myth 4. If I publish digitally, I won’t be able to find a “real” publisher. Actually, publishers are scouring the bestselling titles of digitally published books to find authors they can lure back to the traditional fold (often having neglected these authors in the first place until their digital sales skyrocketed).
Myth 5. Digital books are too cheap to make money. Writers are finding they can make a living through digital publishing (and digital self-publishing). Although traditional publishers are raising the prices of the electronic versions of their books (to try to maintain their bottom line in the face of shrinking sales of “paper” books), self-published digital authors are pricing below the big companies, and selling quite well. And the royalties are better.
Myth 6. Digital books are for talentless amateurs. No. Any amateur can publish a book (and many professionals write bad books). You should bring the same level of care to any word you write, regardless of how it’s published.
Myth 7. Digital books sell themselves. An author still needs a platform for his or her message. Although audiences are gravitating toward e-books, you still need to build that audience.
You may have your own preconceptions about digital publishing. I’d love to hear them.
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