Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Kodak Moment

Have you ever had a Kodak moment? I used to back in the 1980s and 1990s, but I don’t anymore. I’ve long since gone digital. However, it appears that too many publishers today still have Kodak moments. These are publishers who still have one method of publishing – the traditional method of printing so many copies and hoping for the best.

According to the Association Of American Publishers (E-Books Drive Revenue Growth Across Book Trade in January 2012), e-book sales accounted for 27% of all book sales and 31% of all adult trade sales in January. E-books accounted for $128.8 million in sales out of total sales out of a total of $503.5 million, up a whopping 76% from January of last year. They’re projecting that e-books will account for 20% of all book sales this year and 75% of all book sales by 2025.

David Begland of Radiax Press (in E-Books vs. Print Books to Stabilize at 50%?), said that for small publishing houses, like his, e-books already account for 60-70% of all sales.

What does this mean for publishers? According to John C. Dvorak, writing in PC Magazine, it will make book publishing more profitable. He claims that e-books will encourage sales of printed books that people really want in the same way that Napster encourage sales of music CDs.

Dvorak goes on to say that e-books give more creative control to producers and writers took books. They allow books to be tweaked chapter by chapter and filter out the really good books from the not so good ones. By cutting down on editing, copyediting, design, etc., they will boost the profit margins of publishing houses.

There is another potential source of revenue for publishers and writers - the sale of sections of a book, which isn’t practical with printed books, but is with e-books, especially for reference books and guidebooks.

So where does that leave traditional publishers who ignore e-books? – left behind in the trash heap of failed businesses.

I hope to deal more with this and role social media can play in publishing in future posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Titanic's News Legacy

This is a special edition of my blog in memory of the enduring legacy of the Titanic and, in particular, why it continues to make news today 100 years after it sank. In essence it’s a partial answer to what is news.

Why does the Titanic live on in popular memory, while hundreds of other shipwrecks and disasters do not? The Titanic was not the worst shipwreck in history, the Wilhelm Gustloff was. It was torpedoed by a Russian sub off the coast of what is now Poland on January 30, 1945 with the loss of about 9,500 people. Nor was the Titanic the first ship to hit an iceberg and go down.

What makes the Titanic so special and why we continue to remember it today are a combination of things: its name – Titanic, the way it sank – bow first on an even keel, not enough life boats, filled with rich and prominent passengers, being labelled unsinkable by the popular press, striking an iceberg, being on its maiden voyage, being in the well-travelled North Atlantic, sinking in calm weather, a ship nearby that failed to come to the rescue and the length of time it took to sink leaving time for hundreds of mini-dramas to be carried out.

Every transportation disaster since then has been compared to the Titanic, like the recent wreck of the Costa Concordia and the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The finding of the wreck in 1985, Walter Lord’s book A Night To Remember and the movie Titanic has only added to the interest and to mystique.

No doubt in another 100 years we’ll still be talking about the Titanic.