I try to take in about a half hour of news per day. This usually consists of listening to NPR on my way home from work. A story on All Tech Considered back in December got me to thinking about how writers, literary agents, editors, and publishers are all voicing their concerns about the evolving publishing world.
While listening to the story, one particular question kept bumping around my in my head. When was the last time the publishing world had to adopt a new format? Mass-market paperbacks were the only thing that came to mind. These cheap, glue-bound books have been around in one form or another since the 19th Century, but saw a reassurance after WWII. In the past sixty years, other forms of media have evolved. It’s about time the publishing world caught up.
E-readers and tablets are changing the way consumers buy and read books. I have a NOOK Color (I chose this e-reader for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here). I’m constantly amazed at the number of e-book selections on B&N & Amazon websites for a dollar or less. This ties into the NPR article in December where a reviewer was overwhelmed by the number of available apps. Most of the apps were priced at a dollar or less, which mirrors the trends in the e-book world. Consumers are demanding cheap entertainment, whether it can be downloaded to a phone, tablet, or e-reader. Publishers are forced to meet this demand which is a detriment to every one in the publishing worlds pocket books.
Low cost entertainment is both a positive and a negative. The less expensive doesn’t always guarantee quality. But in the end its all about choice. The consumer doesn’t have to rely on the displays at book and mortar stores, or big publishing houses telling them what they think they should read. Consumers have more choices—and more can be a good thing.