Part 1 is almost done, but first...a random blurb about eBooks!

on Tuesday, February 8, 2011
eBook hate completely blows my mind.

Yes I went there and I'll keep going there. I follow a plethora of blogs starring editors, agents, and authors, and nearly ALL of them make at least one post a week on the evils of eBooks. Next to nothing is positive regarding these things, a few even going armageddon on me and saying books are dead and gone and nobody will ever read paper books again and publishers are going to go under oh noooo!

This reminds me of how something else started all those years ago...anybody remember that?
Perhaps it isn't weird to me because of my age bracket. I was born as the digital age hit full swing (or the "internet" portion of the digital age, anyway). I own a plethora of modern technologies. I play video games, and I don't buy retail boxed PC games anymore ever (I buy them all off the internet). I also never buy CDs anymore. My wife and I both own Kindles.

But parts of this gives me a bit more perspective, I think, than others. This is because I've had direct influence using the internet to try and market independent material on the two main fronts other than books (games and music; I haven't sold movies yet), and all I've seen are positives. Here are the examples:
1. My brother has been part of indie bands for years (both my brothers, actually). Their vast market comes from either local gigs selling cds, or promoting their stuff online through facebook (MySpace back when it was relevant). They got so popular they were able to tour the US and stay in fans homes across the nation. If they hadn't marketed their stuff on the internet, they'd be restricted to local only. The internet helps independent lables.
2. For a stint in High School I made indie video games with a pal Eric (who also helped with the planning of what became Lacrymosa, my first full fantasy novel). While we never charged for these games, combined total they got somewhere around 10k to 20k downloads. That's 20,000 people who have looked at at least one of my games somewhere across the world (And that tracking was just on one site; I didn't bother checking the stats from other sites). Also if you look at the game industry you can see indie developers making mad bank (the guy who made Minecraft, for example, is a millionaire now, and the game isn't even out of beta) or getting hired on by big companies.

Other examples could be Justin Bieber who (despite my loathing of his work) was picked up because of a youtube video, and others. Sure the ratio isn't bad, but it still happens. The internet is the key to distribution for PC games and music now. When was the last time you bought a CD? That's what I thought.

The point behind all this is that people wailing doom about eBooks need to realize something: IT ISN'T GOING TO STOP. The Music Industry thought it could kill it...heck, they even sued 12-year-olds for millions of dollars for sharing songs on Kazza. But despite all the crying and screaming, they found they had to adapt. iTunes came alone. Then the Zune store. Next thing you know, CDs are being bought less, but he industry isn't suffering because of it. It just took longer for it to happen.

Games, luckily, embraced it (probably because most gamers are more up-to-date on how technology and commerce can interact). Stream (basically iTunes for games) made over one billion dollers over the holiday season alone. And while some game developers still insist on selling hard copies (and filling them with anti-piracy measures that do more harm than good), Steam has become what I would imagine is close to the most profitable online distribution source ever (the only one I could think would even get close would be iTunes).

 So here are your options. You can fight it, claiming books will be gone forever (like we are going to make a huge fire and burn books, basking in the pyre's glow as we read our satan-created Kindles) and complain as you are dragged unwillingly into the inevitable future. Or you could embrace it (unlike the music industry, like the game industry) and find yourself profiting from adapting early. Are publishers going anywhere? Are game publishers gone because of indie games? Are record labels gone because of MySpace, Facebook, and iTunes? Of course not. They just adapted to this modern age where, sometimes, people want to read a book now rather than driving to the store and getting one.

Book sales will drop, yes, but they won't disappear. I have a feeling they'll level out, and the loss can more than be made up by eBook sales. Things will change, but that is the nature of the beast. You can't very well shut off the internet; the change to eBooks will happen whether you want it or not. Ball is in your court whether you embrace it and profit or get dragged kicking and screaming.


Charlie said...

My long chat with Joe made me slightly less apprehensive about ebooks. I know I'll convert someday (because I'll be forced to sooner or later), but for now I'll huddle in my bomb shelter and hope I can still make a living off all this one day, :D

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