Technology Holding Back E-Book Revolution.
Article date: Thu, 27 Oct 2011 11:53 GMT
There are too many barriers to e-reading for the format to be as widely accepted as digital music.
Issues over price, copyright and safety in the cloud threaten the future of e-publishing. A panel of e-publishing experts discussed the stalled progress of the e-book and why it has not received the warm reception that the mp3 did.
Mark Cantrell, indie author and journalist for Excel Publishing, warned that new technologies such as the new Kindle Fire tablet computer raise questions of ownership for authors and readers, as all of the data is stored on the cloud.
He said: "I regularly publish my work through the Kindle but as an author I don't want all of my work stored in the big corporate cloud and controlled by the big corporations.
"We just have to look back to GL Cities as an example; they had a massive stock of blogs and stories and one day the site was gone and all of the data was gone with it. We have the same issue with the cloud - I simply would not trust all of my data with a big corporation."
Kevin Duffy, Blue Moose Publishing, explained that a key problem for both authors and readers is ownership of the content. He said: "The problem with the Kindle is that you do not own any of the content that you download, and they can take it away from you at any point.
"There was an example in Germany not so long ago when a man was ironically reading 1984 on his e-reader and Amazon removed it from his device as there were copyright issues with that particular version, whereas a physical book is yours to own and keep."
The panel also addressed the key issue of the price barrier to joining the e-book revolution, despite the e-books themselves being low in price, or even free, there is still a layout of on average £100 for an e-reader.
Roy Rowlands, Cognitive Publishing said: "If we look across the world, where once businesses could get cheaper labour employees are standing up to join unions and increase pay scales so companies like Amazon will struggle to get the cost of making e-readers like the Kindle down to a more accessible price meaning that there is still the affordability issue."
Stuart Anderson, editor of EN magazine looked at these barriers from a B2B publishing perspective. He explained the hurdles that e-zines must overcome to gain the same readership as the physical editions.
"If a hard copy magazine lands on your desk, you can pick it up and flip through it at your convenience. Whereas when I receive a notification to say that the latest issue of an e-zine is available by clicking a link, I rarely click it." he says.
"Then if you do click that link to download it, it is on your computer screen but then you would have to download it to your e-reader or tablet to read it elsewhere."
Sara Slack of publishing house Inspired Quill expressed her concern that the openness of e-publishing could dilute the quality of literature.
She said: "The problem online is that there are no 'gatekeepers'. J.K. Rowling was turned down several times before being picked up by Bloomsbury, now if an author is turned down they can simple self-publish online.
"The problem with this is that the people who are passionate and really care about their work are lost in a sea of mediocrity."
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