The eBook Revolution 2012

In March 2011 we posted an article entitled “The eBook Revolution: What Does Emerging Technology Mean for Writing and Reading Literature?” This article is an update following a year watching and taking part in la revolución. Read more…

The eBook Revolution 2012:

The Evolving Landscape of Writing & Reading

by Adam Charles (Writer & Director of iWriteReadRate)

The last twelve months have been a tumultuous time for the world: politically, socially and economically. Seeing all this uncertainty continuing to unfold is, at times, disturbing; however it is increasingly clear to see how being more connected with others, in an myriad of ways, often supports and encourages positive real world changes.

I wrote about being at a “tipping point” within how we create and consume literature and media in The eBook Revolution last year. It seems clear that this shift is still underway: the publishing industry remains in flux; the megalithic Tech Retail companies are still chipping away at redefining the tools we use to access content; the landscape for writers and readers seems to change weekly. It continues to feel like an evolving environment for innovation, and possible for everyone to “truly have an opportunity to make the whole process of what becomes a successful story or novel more democratic, more personal, more social.”

Quality and Augmentation

It is clear that traditional writing discipline is even more important in the ebook world than in the traditionally published one. Focus, when writing, editing, re-editing and creating an ebook cover, is absolutely critical and essential to finding and growing a following. We don’t have the machines of the publishing industry behind us; we have to do it ourselves -whether individually or collaboratively – and we have to do it well.

I’m a big believer that ebooks should be as high quality as regularly published books. In fact, to make the ebook revolution a positive one, it is absolutely crucial that they are. When sending your ebook out to the world, ask yourself over and over: how can I make this a little bit better?

There has also been a great deal of hype around Enhanced eBooks. To me it feels a fundamentally different discipline than writing novels, novellas or short stories; one which I wouldn’t expect to redefine writing, but instead be an ancillary to traditional forms of story telling – for now at least. It seems likely that this will start to become a category of its own in 2012, although remaining quite a specialised sub-category of the revolution.

Hard Copy Loss Syndrome

The lament continues for the paper book. I understand, I really do. Last year I said that “I will miss the touch, smell, and sense of paper and print.” This is still the case. However, embracing the change has become something of mission for me personally, as I wrote about in I Don’t Miss My Massive Walkman. It’s okay to like physical books, I simply think that the potential of ‘e’ outweighs the downsides.

It’s surprising that we don’t see much noise around the environmentally friendly benefits of ebooks. Does it now seem, in 2012, somewhat 20th Century to impact the world around us – whether “sustainable” or not – to produce your next good read?

We’ve been aware for a while about a strange paradox in the UK around not charging VAT tax on paper books, but levying it on ebooks. We don’t believe there is an argument for the disparity. The Futurebook wrote a couple of interesting articles on this: We Must, We Must, Make VAT Dust and eBook VAT: Petition.

UK residents can vote to remove VAT on ebooks by clicking here. We have already!

The Device, OS, & File Format Noise

Last year I wrote about how technology “revolutionises, it refines, it redraws traditional lines of consumption, disrupts our historical patterns of behaviour, it finds a way of improving the situation.” 2011 saw so much disruption in the land of devices – including acquisition and decline of some former powerhouses – and 2012 promises to continue to see technology hardware battles.

However, for me it’s consistently less about the connected object that I hold in my hand; what they all do now is almost ubiquitous. I’m such a fan of Apps, and believe that this way of accessing the Internet has a great chance of being the main gateway in the future.

It shouldn’t matter what device you use to purchase and download your ebooks. In an open world there are options that give everyone choice and freedom – which, from my experience, can only be a good thing for consumers of any product, including ebooks.

The war to own us as consumers will undoubtedly continue in 2012. However, I’d like to pose you a question: do you want the ebook revolution to mirror the past, or would you like to revise and reinvigorate those models, to place the negotiating strength in the hands of writers and readers directly?

Final Thought on The eBook Revolution 2012

Apparently, currently less than 1/3 of people who buy books are buying them in electronic format.

What does this mean? I think it means that we’re just getting started – the rules and boundaries of the revolution are still being written.

Get your ticket, there’s still time to join and influence The eBook Revolution.

Like this? Read the original The eBook Revolution.

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PS – keep a look out for Project Prometheus – awesome new site features coming soon. Registered iWriteReadRaters will be the first to discover more.

Picture courtesy of: Google Images

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