Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Do ebooks Mean to Me?

Tomorrow I'm off to a one-day seminar (put on by the Australian Society of Authors) about ebooks and epublishing. While I've been reading a lot of blogs and commentaries and opinions about ebooks, and listened to publishers talk about where they're at and what's coming, and read news items about things like agents setting themselves up as epublishers for their clients ... what does it mean for me?

I'm not an author who's been around since the 60s and has contracts that don't even mention epublishing, or electronic anything. If I have anything still in print, the eclause in my contract usually specifies something vague like "all electronic mediums not yet thought of". That kind of covers everything, doesn't it?

My interest in epublishing comes from two things - one of which is books of mine that are out of print and may benefit from being available in an electronic format. For instance, I have the rights back for my verse novel, Farm Kid, and several teachers have already asked me for an electronic version that includes classroom materials. Note that additional request - not just the book, but lots of added extras that will give them a range of stuff to use with their students. My other interest is a novel or two that I personally have faith in but that publishers have said No to.

I suspect that the move to ebooks in children's publishing might lag behind adult novels and nonfiction, simply because of the way kids view computers and anything that looks like "work". I know a few who have laptops for school. These laptops are not for fun (you get that on the internet by hogging the family computer) - they're for school work. Thus reading on screen equals school work. Would that make you want to launch into ereaders?

I also suspect that if there is a move into picture books on the iPad, it will come from parents. Guess what - little kids like parents to read to them, from books they can touch and grab and flick pages over and then sit on, or take to bed. While parents are madly grabbing their iPad back and wiping off the grubby fingerprints! Parents will be the ones who gasp over the little app that shows the illustrator colouring in the dog or talking about ideas. Little kids will want the story - again and again, and then they'll want to take it to bed, while Dad wants the iPad so he can read the newspaper...

But I'm going along tomorrow, hoping the person running the seminar will be able to ask all those thorny questions about formats and marketing and covers and Kindle and different ISBNs. If I epublish one of my novels that no one in traditional publishing wants, can I get it out there? How? I'll report back!


Lorraine said...

Looking forward to the report back, Sherryl. It sounds fascinating, but everything's moving so fast it sometimes makes one want to curl up into one's shell. However, we have to keep up with the times so we'll have to shed the shell and follow - even if it is at our own snail'space.

Kristi Holl said...
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Kristi Holl said...

I think you're right about kids and books versus ebooks, if my grandkids are any indication. And I don't blame them. I want to curl up in bed with a real book myself.
--not a mini computer.

It IS hard to sort out adult/juvenile information when it comes to ebooks. So much of what applies to adult ebooks (and marketing adult ebooks) doesn't seem to apply to kids much. We shall see!

Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog