Ebooks e-readers and writers’ future work potential


By Dan Pelland

What is fueling the changes we see today in the publishing industry, and why are so many people interested in e-books and e-readers? what do writers have to learn in order to survive?

Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos’ retail empire, introduced the Kindle e-book reader in 2007. Sales reportedly approached 240,000 for the original model and are projected upward for the Kindle 2. Whether the Kindle caused a publishing revolution or just happened to be there when the inevitable took place is a question nobody really needs to answer. Many believe print publishing, like film photography, will soon be a vanished art. And just look at the timeline. Digital photography swept over us in an instant. Will ink and paper fade into the past as quickly?

Right now there is no industry standard format for e-book files, which opens up lots of options. Adobe’s portable document format, PDF is a mature document type which gives the author complete control over the layout and typography of a page. The typical PDF doesn’t, however, have the ability to re-flow, or adjust to the size and shape of different reader screens – an important point because of the variety of mobile devices. To address this issue, Adobe has introduced the PDF/A, which allows the document to adapt to readers of all shapes, plus it includes digital rights management features, making it an attractive medium for authors, publishers and readers as well. Users may download Adobe’s reader software – “Adobe Digital Editions” free. The PDF and PDF/A formats are compatible with some dedicated readers and all personal computers running Microsoft and Linux operating systems.

With the introduction of Apple’s Reader application for iPod and iPhone, the handheld devices haves become an instant hit for users. As is the case for most iPhone apps the Reader is simple, quick and easy to use. It supports display of HTML, PDF and proprietary file formats. Reader applications for other mobile devices appear almost every day, now. Just this morning I learned of two new reader apps for Palm and Blackberry PDAs.

Amazon’s Kindle 2 is a dedicated reader closely linked with content available from the site’s catalog of ebook titles. Kindle and some other dedicated readers use a unique display technology that provides users with an easy to read hi resolution reflective image that only consumes power when the page is turned.

What all this means to writers is that you must learn the coding, the formats, and the protocols that will steam along with this wave to the future. You will, not might, but will be publishing your own work in a variety of formats. You will sell your writing to those who publish electronically and digitally. Start your research now.

You may not need to abandon print clients today, but the writing is on the monitor – soon you will be working in a different medium and it’s in your own best interest to be ready.

Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual

The ebook business blog

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