An Introduction to E-book and its evolution
The digital method of accessing books or e-books has now become the popular choice of reading for avid book lovers. Walk through the waiting area of any airport or any other waiting place and you are bound to see a good number of readers enjoying the new method of reading with their Kindles, Nooks, iPads and more; devices which offer them convenience, access to thousands of books, portability, and affordability.
So what is an e-book? An e-book is a digital object and contains textual and/or other contents. It is the integration of the familiar concept of a book as we know it with features that are provided in an electronic medium. E-books come with many inbuilt features including bookmarks, highlights, annotations, cross reference functions, hypertext links, interactive tools and multimedia objects.
The notion of the e-book has existed ever since the introduction of computers. E-books are considered as one of the most significant developments in modern times. Alan Kay, in 1960, introduced Dynabook, an idea which bore close resemblance in its essence to that of e-books and laptops. In the 1970s, Michael Hart, the American millionaire, introduced digitized versions of books and made them available widely for free through Project Gutenberg. Since then this Project has made more than 100,000 titles available which includes more than 20000 free e-books.
But even after that, the electronic text remained confined to savvy academicians and scientists for many decades. The Open Book Forum Initiative, today familiar as International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), held the first e-book conference in 1998 and addressed issues concerning the development of e-book technology.
Stephen King’s novel, “Riding the Bullet” was released on the internet in March 2000. The novel sold 400,000 copies in a single day. Thus rose the popularity of e-books. The April 15, 2000, issue of “Library Journal” published the first review of an e-book titled “E-Books – A Fantasy Come True?”
Factors contributing to popularity of E-books
The e-book forecast made in 2000 looked good which said that by 2005 e-book users were expected to reach 1.9 million though the actual scenario by that year was different due to the many obstacles which affected the growth and development of the technology.
However, e-books are once again gaining popularity.
- With developing technology and the availability of the internet, accessibility has become easier and new opportunities have come up for publishing houses. The vast amount of material covering just about any topic under the sun is now available on the internet for ready access by e-book readers.
- For avid book readers who are always on the go, carrying regular titles can become a heavy And when you intend to finish one book and begin another, the luggage becomes still heavier. E-books allow you the liberty of carrying as many titles as you want without any change in your luggage load. They give you the luxury of switching between titles with ease with the overall weight being lighter than a standard paperback novel.
- Those who have a collection of books know how much space books can take up. Any number of e-books can be stored in your e-book reader device or in your computer to be retrieved anytime and anywhere.
- E-books are instantly buyable while if you order a physical book the waiting period is long.
- E-books come at a cheaper price since there is no printing fee. In fact, there are free e-books available online. This is not the case with a physical book which always comes with a price tag.
- With a hardcover book, you have to stop reading the moment your eyes get strained. E-books allow you to change font sizes or darkness of the lettering according to your reading convenience.
- EPUB standards allow users to read e-books on various reading devices, and XML code allows keyword searches to be conducted within the e-book content.
Why Publish an e-book: Traditional Publishing vs E-Book Publishing
Total Control: Creative persons, whether artists, sculptors, musicians, and authors, have all been at the mercy of those who control and profit from their creativity. Whether it be your input for cover art or marketing for your book, publishers have the ultimate say. They may not be able to keep up with your requirements as they have limited budgets. Now authors can have direct control over their books with the evolution of e-books, which gives them direct access to readers. E-book publishers are also author friendly. An author is allowed more control over the production and design and is allowed to be pro-active throughout the processes of editing and production.
- Saving Time: Do you know that that the traditional way of publishing books and then getting it into the market i.e. from submission to release, could take 12 – 15 months for an agent. Your e-book can be viewed on Amazon, Apple and more within 3 – 4 weeks. The production of e-books is quicker since formatting does not take long for one. The requirement for cover arts is also drastically reduced.
- Higher Revenue: The old payment formula involved the paying of royalty percentages which were minuscule. Depending on how popular an author you are and also how much the budget of the publishing house has, your royalty could be anywhere between ten to twenty percent of the sales of your book. But with e-books you have the opportunity to get decent revenue on your sales. Resources are low and hence, the opportunity to pay royalties on the sales rises. Now the e-book authors are receiving sales receipts of up to 70% through online retailers.
- Environment-Friendly: Many hardcover books, when not sold are cleared for recycling. So, your book might end up as toilet paper some day. E-book production, on the other hand, is very environment-friendly. There is no destruction of trees since they are produced digitally. They can be downloaded whenever required and read on an e-book reader.
What are the Various Publishing Options for E-books?
What does self-publishing mean? Any book which is available for viewing and which has been published with the sole authority of the author with any upfront servicing costs being borne by the author alone falls under the category of a self-publishing book. The book remains self-published even if it has failed to sell and the masses are yet to discover it. But why self-publish an e-book?
- Good Income from Global Business
With no printing or shipping costs involved, authors stand to gain more profit per book. E-books sell immediately as readers can purchase it as soon as they hear about it. Authors have a global business from their writing desks.
- Speed in Publishing
The speed of publishing ensures that readers can get the book as fast as you want. Once the author clicks Publish, the e-book is up for sale as fast as within 24 hours. So learning is fast.
- Low Entry Cost, High Returns
To publish an e-book is free on most of the popular e-book platforms. Barring the upfronts for editing and cover design, the actual publishing is free though the stores charge a small percentage of the sales. Compared to its low entry costs, the returns on self-publishing is very high.
2. The Need for Publishers
But there are also pros to approaching publishing houses instead of the idea to publish an ebook oneself, where the author has to carry the operational and financial burdens of publishing all by himself/herself.
- Self-Marketing and Promotion
The responsibility of marketing and promoting the e-book becomes the sole responsibility of the author, and the e-book is hardly noticed by critics and reviewers. Publishers Have a Platform
Publishers are already well-established and can provide you with a platform from where you can launch yourself. They have connections with known publications which will help you to reach a larger audience.Publishers Ensure that a Book Gains Attraction.
The ease of digital publishing means that readers have to slog through many books before they can find a good one. Going through known publishers ensures that your book will attract the attention of readers who are on the look-out for a good book.
- Publishers Help to Better a Book
A self-publishing is a lone effort, but when you approach a publisher the book gets a good team which collaborates for its success. The author-editor relationship in traditional publishing works equally well when you opt to publish an e-book yourself.
3. Using Agents for Publishing
But many authors who opt to publish an e-book themselves, get to that point where they would like to see their books reaching out to more readers and covering a wider range of the reading population. The demand for literary agents never dies. This is the time when they need to contact a literary agent who will be representing them.
But trying to pitch an already self-published book to a literary agent is a tough submission. It is due to the fact that when agents review a novel with the intention of publishing it, they go for the story. But when they review an already published book, they look for the story as well as the reason as to why the book should be given a second shot via the traditional method of publishing and if it is worth it.
The advantages of employing an agent are many-folds
- Literary Requirements
Literary agents are experienced and have an idea about what various book editors and publishers would be looking for in any book. They know the genre and topics which would be appealing to individual publishing houses.
- Knowledge of Publishers
Literary agents know of many publishers who are trustworthy and about which an author may not know. Additionally, they also have connections and links with various publishers such as trade publishers, regional publishers, niche publishers and also smaller publishers.
- Network of Publishers
A competent literary agent makes it his business to build up his rapport with noteworthy publishers and keeps in touch with them. The publishers are also glad to keep in touch with competent agents which work out to the benefit of the author.
- Negotiating Skills
First-time authors are ready to accept whatever a publisher would offer them. The publishers who are very well aware of this also take full advantage of the fact. With a literary agent negotiating, the publisher is unable to cheat an author of his dues.
- Reputation of the Agent
Publishers knew that a well-known and competent agent will bring only suitable work for publishing. So, publishing firms will read and give time to work that is brought in by the agent relying on his reputation.
Selecting a Publishing Pathway for E-Books
With various pathways which are continually appearing on the market promising to help authors to either publish an e-book themselves or to distribute their books, it is better to know all about how these services operate before you make your choice. There are a few basic questions which need to be answered while selecting the publishing pathway which suits you best.
- Is the service exclusive or is it non-exclusive which means that while you are using their services for selling your book you are also free to use other methods of selling your e-book.
- For exclusive services how long would the contract be? With KDP select the contract period is 90 days although there are agents who would want long-term commitments.
- Is the price under your control? The standard practice is to allow the author the sole control over pricing though some services have pricing restrictions which are reasonable.
- How will the royalty be calculated? Different services may have different models, but there should be transparency in the fees.
- What are the hidden charges? There are many reasons which will see you paying more than the standard rates. Some of them include conversion or formatting for a long book, extra work done on an inconvenient file format or formatting done on charts and images.
- Who is the owner of the e-book after creation? When the payment for conversion and formatting services is yours then you are the owner of the e-book. But in some cases such as Smashwords you are not.
Useful Tools for Formatting E-Books
- Tools which can be used for creating and formatting e-books:
- Scrivener, though not free, can export EPUB files.
- StreetLib is a free web-based tool which can also be used for distribution as well as sales.
- Calibre is software for free formatting and conversion of e-books.
- PressBooks is WordPress-based and is a free formatting tool.
- Vellum is for Mac users for the production of EPUB files only and is an easy-to-use software.
- Apple Pages can also be utilized for exporting EPUB files.
- There are tools which are available for creating enhanced, multimedia of full-coloured e-books:
- Apple iBooks Author is free software which limits you to using only Apple iBookstore.
- Book Creator, an iPad app for animated books, is great for authors catering to children’s books.
- KDP Kids’ Book Creator is a tool which is available for picture books for children.
- Blubt is a great tool for producing digital full-colored books in addition to producing a print.
Should authors go for e-book publishing? That cannot be answered as needs of individual authors vary. Authors who are marketing savvy and can sell their books opt for self-publishing. To publish an E-book is a good way of promoting yourself and create a great career in writing. There are more opportunities for money, input, and support which make electronic printing of your book a favorable option.
If you are looking to publish an E-book, then Print2eforms is a good place, to begin with. With expert guidance, it will become easier for you to decide as to how you want to go about your book. For more information, click here.