This Week's Fish-Wrap №48: Back Again From the Dead

People initially pooh-​​poohed the electronic book format as being “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist”. Admittedly, the eBook for the first decade or so basically sucked donkeys, but those days are over. Nearly. Any day now. Trust me.

© Tom Gauld
Cartoon by Tom Gauld for the “Guardian” (Saturday Review letters page)

Okay, they’re not really all that bad, but they could still do with a step-​​up in the break-​​through department. Doing everything exactly as well as a printed book isn’t really enough of a draw to convince the doubters that eBooks are even worth consideration. I’m not sure what ‘the tipping point’ might be – dancing video? free drugs? full sensual experience with 50 Shades of Grey? no idea – but we’re not there yet. There are times that even simply going to the next chapter of the book I’m reading seems a task (I’m looking at you Terry Pratchett YA titles!), but the affordability of hardware and lack of really good colour eInk video rendition seems a bit of a downer. It can’t be the price of the things anymore, as there’s a good number under $100 now, and there’s even one coming for less than €10!

Anyway… where was I…?

Oh yes! eBooks! They’re popular! Really! Look at this:

So the first interesting thing here is that the Kobo is seen as the ‘go-​​to device’ for their eBooks, rating “27% saying they plan to use a Kobo device to buy their next e-​​book followed by Kindle at 19% and the iPad at 14%.” Given the delay on Amazon getting clearance for a Canadian version of AT&T’s ‘WhisperNet’ connection in the USA, it’s not too surprising, but it’s still surprising to me. Possibly heart-​​warming, given how much I’ve been rooting for Kobo since Day One when they were ‘ShortCovers’.  

The second thing here is that the paperback is still holding its own with 57% of sales (hardcovers had 24% of unit sales), which I’ve always seen as the one format that eBooks will supplant for popularity; Mass-​​Market Paperbacks especially (you know, they’re the really crappy ones that last for one or two readings at most and are smaller that most others). 

But wait! There’s more from the mighty offices of K0bo! Big stuff! So big you’ve got four! (4!) links from which to choose! Behold!

The one thing that might get people shifting to eReading – if not for the Madefire application – is the ability to read graphic novels on their devices, especially if they can get hold of content that either does things otherwise impossible (such as the aforementioned Madefire material for iOS devices), and/​or material that hasn’t been available for awhile. I can imagine a complete run of the entire Marvel or DC catalogue would be something incredible (although some of the mid-​​WWII stuff might raise more than an eyebrow or two). 

The expansion of the Kobo catalogue to New Zealand means that the unsuspecting Antipodean readers shall find themselves exposed to the crazy world of Atomic Fez’s genre-​​bustin’ fiction! HUZZAH!!!

Beg pardon. [:: polite cough ::]

Kobo’s acquisition of a ‘digital service company’, as well as its continued geographic expansion, is quite large a development, announced now no doubt in order to be a part of the Frankfurt Book Show on right now. This is the perfect time for anyone to shout about their European Business Developments, what with them being in Europe, obviously. But it’s also a way for the gathered business leaders to take encouragement from each other with new industry ideas, business plans, and general re-​​assessments of goals and methodology.

This is encouraging, as it details the discussion of Big Publishers approaching the format from a business model which isn’t based on the one adopted about a century ago. given the non-​​physical delivery system of the product, as well as a non-​​geographic-​​based market, it’s surprising that it’s only now that the fresh approach is being taken. That said, it’s excellent that it’s being done, never mind the delay involved. Hooray! Perhaps we can start moving forward for the sake of everyone involved?

Please?

“This Week’s Fish Wrap” is an on-​​going series of posts summing up the news of the previous seven days in the publishing industry, and/​or announce the latest news Atomic Fez has about the publishing house, and appears here each Monday. It’s also quite possible that the posts merely serve as a dumping ground of links so that Atomic Fez Proprietor Ian Alexander Martin can find articles later to include in his occasional rants about how ‘EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTIRELY WRONG’ about various things.

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