Every once in a while, a perfect storm of technology, innovation and creativity come together to change the course of how we use everyday items. Books have been printed in more or less the same manner for hundreds of years and now the combo of tablets and Internet are changing all of that.
Just as the 90s digital music revolution and mp3 players changed the way we consume music, so are tablets changing the publishing industry and getting books into people’s hand. So, if the face of publishing is changing, how does it look?
The Amazon Kindle-factor
2011’s holiday season has been called the ‘Kindle Christmas’, with almost 5 million Fires sold. The lower-cost tablet with Amazon’s integrated media content store has been a prime engine of the new digital publishing revolution. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows you to self-publish your books on the Amazon Kindle Store. The best part is that your books can earn you money: writers can opt in for the 70% royalty program, which means that for a book that is sold for $.99 you would get $.35 and Amazon would take the rest.
This option is a whole new world for writers who have for years struggled against book submissions and rejections. In this traditional context, unknown authors might at best get an advance of $5,000—royalties, depending on genre, could be little. But with self-publishing, even earning as little as $.35, can bring you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at Michael Prescott’s Riptide, one of the number one selling books on Amazon’s store. With over 800,000 copies sold, Prescott will earn about $300,000. Plus, the distribution (the lifeline of any media) is huge: your book gets to all Kindle devices and on all Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and Android-based devices.
In USA Today’s top 150 Best-selling books of 2011, five were self-published:
- Michael Prescott
: Five self-published e-books in the top 150 for a total of 42 weeks
- Barbara Freethy
: Nine self-published e-books in the top 150 for 41 weeks
- Darcie Chan: Her debut novel, The Mill River Recluse
, has spent 16 weeks in the top 150
- Amanda Hocking
: seven self-published e-books in the top 150 for a total of 50 weeks
- C.J. Lyons
: two self-published e-books for a total of nine weeks in the top 150
Move over printing press, here comes Amazon
The head of technology and telecoms consulting at YouGov, Marek Vaygelt, stated: "This is finally the year when the late-medieval technology of the printing press was challenged by a 21st century, digital alternative. Amazon has done a remarkable job of selling the benefits of e-readers and the upside for the publishing industry is that it appears e-reader owners, at least in the early days, buy more e-books than the printed books they purchased before acquiring an e-reader."
With the growing amount of Amazon Kindle Fire's out there getting rigorous reading use, fans of the 7-inch tablet might want to think about investing in a case that fits their everyday use.
Post-PC publishing, Post-PC writing?
While many people out there are using their tablets as ereaders, the fact remains that these books are being written on desktops. But is that the only option? Ever since the rise of tablets, case-makers have been developing tablet keyboard cases making it possible to fully compose a novel on a tablet. One of the best Apple iPad 2 cases out there is ZAGGfolio for Apple iPad 2. The nice thing about this keyboard is the “island” keys, which is similar to what a Mac desktop or laptop uses, making it one of the most functional case keyboards out there.
But don’t forget about higher-end models like Kensington’s iPad 2 Keyfolio case. If you’re writing a novel, just make sure to test out the key-spacing and see it is comfortable for you.
Is Apple missing out?
Within all this new publishing hype, some analysts think that Apple is preparing to directly challenge Amazon’s ebook success. Apple’s upcoming media event in New York is reported to be aimed at establishing its own direct publisher in order to defend itself against Amazon, according to Good e-Reader. This would let Apple compete with both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, signaling another Apple move into the competition with the lower-priced tablets.
Missing that book-like feeling?
At the end of the day, tablet-based books will come down to reader—many state they miss the book-in-hands feeling, the smell of book stores, turning the pages and so on. In order to help out these bibliophiles, some manufacturers have tried to supplement that old feel by making book tablet case .The Moleskine-esque DODOcase Kindle Keyboard Book Case is a great design to help keep that literary vibe.
But with a whole generation growing up with tablets and not books, why would they miss these things? Perhaps in 20 years the youngsters of today will say how they miss the feel of their clunky Apple iPad and ebook downloads that took longer than a minute.
Tablet Insight is a weekly column by Thomas Andersen that focuses on the innovative tablet uses and considers what is the most compatible and necessary tablet case.