eBook Anecdotes, Bold Predictions (Roundtable: 8/19/10)

#DBW RoundtableThe Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast gathering some of the most outspoken industry professionals to debate the hottest publishing issues of the week, as being discussed in traditional media, the blogiverse and on Twitter. From celebrity book deals to eBook rights and pricing to [insert YOUR pet topic here] — if it’s related to books, it’s on the agenda.

Topic: eBook Anecdotes, Predictions

This episode of The Roundtable was webcast live at 1pm EDT on Thursday, August 19, 2010.


Laura Dawson, Publishing Industry Consultant
Kate Rados, Marketing Director, F+W Media
Bridget Warren, Former Co-Owner, Vertigo Books

Moderated by:

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Dir. of Programming & Business Development, Digital Book World


Arthur Klebanoff: eBook Veteran, First Mover

“eBooks are good news. There are many more paths to market. Ten years ago a general literary agent would take on a client if they thought they could maybe make a $10,000 deal for a book, and if they struck out they struck out, and you were dead. One the one hand, [today] there are many fewer places to pitch the book. On the other hand, if you’re an author with some energy there are all these different paths to market that simply didn’t exist. You may need lightning to strike, but the truth is you need lightning to strike anyway. To look at it negatively, what you’re getting is a lottery ticket. Positively, every week somebody wins the lottery.”

Book sellers buck e-trend

As for the e-book market, it is growing, he said, but it’s still far behind the printed book market. Nine percent of U.S. adults bought e-books over the last 12 months, compared with 57 percent who bought printed books, he said. While Amazon’s e-books are outselling hardcovers, many of the books for its Kindle readercost less than a dollar, and some are 25 cents. “Well, duh,” Norris said. “A 25-cent e-book is easier to sell.”

Can Hollywood keep hanging on to its aging business model?

If Hertz sounds a cautionary note about the future, it’s that every great business model is someday bound to collapse. And when change comes, it is not only abrupt, but it usually is best exploited by people outside the business being changed. “In the music business, everyone went to the right conferences and listened to all the warnings, but no one actually prepared themselves for the changes,” Hertz says. “If you look at who’s done well with new technology, it’s been Steve Jobs and Apple, along with EBay, Amazon and Netflix. All the wealth was created outside the business that experienced the change.”

The Web Is Passing Most of You By… And You are Asleep

The order of operations for the next-gen web is a simple formula. The RIGHT data to the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time on the RIGHT device. Data first, Device LAST. But you don’t get it. You’re talking about iPhone apps. You think the iPhone, the iPad, and the Android will save us. You don’t realize that mobile constitutes more than those devices. You’re running companies that specialize only on a single device and app. Yea, I’m looking at you, Gowalla. You’ve missed the damn boat.

What’s Wrong With ‘X Is Dead’

In the details of the history, we see all the possibilities for other futures. We see the dead-ends and the false predictions, all the “inevitabilities” that never came to pass. We see the variety of systems that have existed in different places and similar ones that have existed at different times. This is the fundamental value of having a historical sense about technology. It leads you away from making grand sweeping statements about how things must go. In July’s Technology and Culture, Leo Marx traced the rise of the word ‘technology,’ as a way of understanding what technology has come to mean in modern society. He pinpoints exactly what makes the Andersonian worldview so compelling — and so fraught with peril.

Twitter (as RTd by @DigiBookWorld)

RT @MatthewDiener: #dbw Big Q might be whether Q1 post-eReader-Christmas spike is outlier, not Q2 whose growth compared to 2009 is in-line.

RT @pa4culture: Physical books still have personal meaning to our #DBW heroes. Haven’t eliminated despite enthusiasm for digital reading.

RT @kellymcclymer: 9% US bought ebook in last 12 mo. 57% bought print books.#dbw http://bit.ly/ai4xaO

RT @Knownhuman: With an eReader, you shouldn’t *need* a help desk. It should be either dead simple, or you can read online for help #DBW

RT @Millerchick: #dbw DATA FIRST, device last ~ care about the content not the container!

RT @Knownhuman: Publishers will learn to make their revenue by adding value to content, rather than on content. Or, die trying. #DBW

RT @babetteross: Carefully and relevantly done ads in books could work @katerados Ie. fabric store in craft book #dbw #adsinbooks

RT @emilyw00: #DBW Google was offering 67% of ad rev off Google Book Search http://is.gd/eoYP3 (PubMarketplace link). not such a pittance.

RT @MatthewDiener: #dbw Also, who is adding the ads? Pubs or platforms? A battle that will likely bloody all our noses once it starts.

RT @joswartz: the ‘ads’ in books cannot be traditional one-way ads. they could be made to be incentive to buy book. #dbw #adsinbooks

RT @JJmaddn: Ads could add value to non-fiction but objectivity of content could be colored or co-opted by “sponsors”. #dbw #adsinbooks

RT @tstcpublishing: #dbw yup… higher ed ebooks are ~5% of textbook sales… once that increases, ebook sales overall will jump way up.

RT @MatthewDiener: Prediction from @glecharles: Google Editions will be more Google Wave than G-Mail. Oh no you didn’t! #dbw


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