For some publishers, digital makes up 5-10% of unit sales, and the rate is increasing every day. It’s time to make ebook quality control a priority and not an afterthought. Liza Daly of Threepress Consulting will demonstrate the seven deadly sins of eBooks and how to fix them. It might hurt at first, but consumers notice. Let’s make digital books as carefully crafted as their print counterparts.
[NOTE: DBW Members can listen to the entire presentation here.]
Getting Past “Good Enough” Ebooks
As ebooks account for ever-greater percentages of sales and publishers clamor for higher prices, it’s time to ensure that digital books are meeting the same quality standards as their physical counterparts.
Some common problems with existing commercial ebooks are outlined in this presentation:
Absence of attractive covers
Ebook buyers are very disappointed to find that their editions include no cover, a text-only cover, or an unsightly generic cover. There’s no excuse for front-list books to not have the rights sorted out. If different digital covers do need to be used, they should be well-crafted, not placeholders.
Extraneous print-only material and blank pages
E-ink devices are slow to turn pages. Don’t waste readers’ time with useless material.
Wrong or misleading metadata
If the ebook is going to include ISBN or other metadata, ensure that it’s for the correct edition.
Unnecessary tables of contents
Ebook formats include tables of contents internally. In most cases it isn’t necessary to include them in the flow of the book content. If they are included, ensure that they have hyperlinks to the actual chapters.
Ebooks aren’t a lesser edition of the final product. They should have the most current and complete editorial updates and corrections.
It’s critically important that publishers attend to the 5% rule: the first 5% of the ebook will end up in the free samples provided by retailers. That 5% should be compelling. Readers with limited time and attention want to jump into the story as fast as possible, and to maximize conversions it’s the publisher’s role to get readers hooked.
Publishers compete not just with other publishers and other types of media. In the digital world they also compete with free, easily-available pirated ebooks. In some extreme cases, pirated ebooks have been found to be superior in quality and thoroughness than some of the automated print-to-digital conversions on the marketplace today.
If you expect readers to pay $12.99 or more for an ebook, you must give them the same high-quality product they expect in the printed world. Consumers don’t know or care about image rights issues, technical difficulties or multi-format conversion errors. They want a good story, in a readable form, that’s good value for their money.