Attention Publishers – Where Are the Ebooks?

Selection is important to all consumers, but readers of ebooks often run into roadblocks when seeking popular titles in digital formats. As my interest and enthusiasm in ebooks grow, I erroneously assumed that any popular title I desired would automatically be available for sale in eBook formats. I was surprised to learn that I was wrong.

For example, as someone who enjoys fantasy fiction, I looked for the Sword of Truth ebooks by Terry Goodkind. I could not find them at any eBook retailer. These fantasy ebooks were not even at Amazon that has been making a big splash in the digital content market. This puzzled me greatly because this series is quite popular and I am sure that demand for the digital versions would be more than sufficient to warrant eBook production.

Another popular fantasy series that is not legitimately available as ebooks is the venerable Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien. Similarly the Tolkien estate and its publisher are too worried about piracy to approve these high demand titles for the eBook market.

Then there is the phenomenon of Harry Potter. This billion-dollar enterprise so dreads internet bandits that Harry Potter ebooks are not available from legitimate retailers.

The irony that arises around overprotective authors and publishers is that that refusal to produce digital titles triggers eBook piracy. If you do an internet search for these titles as ebooks, you will find the outlined titles available to download from various sites of dubious reputation. Clearly refusing to produce a title as a legitimate eBook does not stop piracy. What it does accomplish is forcing eBook readers into the arms of pirates. A reader desiring to read such titles as ebooks can choose the high ground and refuse to download the illegal / unauthorized copies or indulge in the pirated work. Either way the publishers are missing an opportunity to create a customer out of the reader. Instead of alienating potential customers for these popular titles, the publishers could welcome the eBook readers and provide them with a quality and reasonably priced product.

In addition to useless paranoia about eBook piracy, publishers may be disregarding the eBook market because they think that it is too small. Certainly ebooks, as a new medium, lack the market share of the familiar and centuries-old form known as the book, but the eBook market is growing. And in the competitive book business, it would seem sensible to sweeten the pot with any extra sales. The eBook market already supports several large online retailers and numerous small ones. Also the eBook market has shown the potential to attract the thoughtful resources of Amazon. Therefore, even this relatively small market is baking a pie from which any publisher should want a slice.

The cost of entering the eBook market is low and therefore not a believable excuse for ignoring it. The production costs of ebooks are minuscule compared to printed book production, and transport and warehousing are rendered unnecessary. All publishers should consider the eBook versions of their titles to be gravy on the biscuits of their business. Refusing to produce titles in eBook formats frustrates readers, who are definitely potential customers, encourages pirated versions to be downloaded, and lacks business sense. I understand that book publishers are terrified of what happened to the music industry, but book publishing is a different business, and even music producers understand that their futures will be defined by digital delivery.

Many publishers are adding to their bottom lines and reaching more readers by producing ebooks. The immensely popular Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series by George RR Martin is available for eBook readers to buy, which has not hampered the success of these books at all. I urge overprotective authors and publishers to work past their misgivings about ebooks and expand the availability of their titles.

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Tracy Falbe

Author: admin

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