Saturday, August 8, 2009

Print or E-Book?

by Jim Brown

What's in your future and why? Why go one way or the other? What do you see as the future of publishing? What about the readers?

This is a question that's often asked these days. Everyone wants to know the answer now. We know change is afoot, we know change is coming in many forms, and we know e-technology is making it so much easier for people to read e-published material - in all it's forms, like webpages, email, text messaging, online newspapers etc. It's not just about ebooks, and of course we in this part of the industry concentrate more on that, but we need to watch the trends, trends like most people now having mobile phones and computers at home, and trends like kids become computer-literate at earlier and earlier ages.

These all give us our indicators as to where our publishing industry is heading. It can be seen that "E" is going to be a major part of everyone's reading methods, and for many already is so. A recent survey done by us at LL-Publications showed that well over 60% of people who voted will buy an ebook reader if prices fall below $150 (£100). That's a key figure. Prices will come down, as all new things electronic do the more popular they become, and when it reaches that magic figure you can watch the ebook industry explode in popularity!

We currently concentrate on both print and ebooks, and to be truthful it's print sales that hold sway at the moment. People love books, love the feel of them in their hands, and love to see a row of books on a shelf. There's something personally satisfying about your bookshelf. I don't think that will ever end. I think physical books will always have a place. But I'm also convinced that ebook readers will become as popular as mobile phones. You'll see people walking about with their 'reader' in their hand, sitting on trains and buses reading away. In fact, future readers will probably have web browsing capability too, and perhaps communications too. Smartphones currently allow you to read ebooks, but I sense those are too small for dedicated readers. One needs a decent sized screen and not a tiny one that needs continuous scrolling.

Visions of the future are fraught with danger. Things don't always work out as we thought they might. Remember those old brick-style mobile phones? The first time those appeared the idea of having your own phone to carry around was laughed at. Now you feel naked if you leave home without it. So what, or who, decides the shape of the future? It's not me, the publisher. It's the reader. Ebooks will only ever become the norm, and take over from print if that's what the reader wants. Sure, the introduction of cheaper ebook readers will increase the popularity of ebooks - and I predict that's when this industry will really take off - but you really never can tell. Perhaps ebooks will prove a big turn-off in general terms, even with cheap readers. Who knows?

Another important consideration is the part that the major publishing houses will play in e-publishing. Currently they are just beginning to awaken to the dawn of ebooks for them. The way they price their products will be key in deciding how people perceive ebooks. When CDs first came along in the music industry there was some outcry over pricing, the main complaint being that prices should have been a lot cheaper than tape or vinyl. That never came about, but CDs still prevailed as new generations came along and embraced "the disc". Will ebooks go that way?

As a publishing company, we shall keep our options open, because we realise it's the people who read who will inevitably decide our future path. We provide outlets for authors and their work, but we serve the reading public, and we need to give them exactly what they want. For now, print leads the race, but I predict that within ten years ebooks will be outselling print books. Bold? We'll see!

Check out where you'll find this busy man, and his lovely wife Zetta:

Here are the latest releases from LL Publications and Logical Lust:

(I understand this first book is doing incredibly well. Congratulations Mark and your publisher)

SWING! by Jolie Du Pre

Jim Brown (EPIC Secretary)
Free up your time!
Logical-Lust Publications


  1. Hello, Jim,

    Welcome to the Grip! We're really glad that you could join us.

    I agree with you about the price of eReaders being a critical barrier to ebook acceptance at the moment. And as I've commented earlier this week, it's hard to know what's going on when you're in the middle of a revolution.


  2. Hi Jim!

    Welcome to our little blog.

    I want very much for ebooks to succeed because trhere are a lot of things about them I like. I think currently its the industry which is holding them back because of a lot of consumer-hostile klutziness. DRM protected books often get locked off forver when your change computers too mucan times. You can;t share them with your friends the way you can with a paper book you like. There are no "used ebooks" stores. And as you say the price of a reader is hellaciously expensive. The military has an online library with a huge selection of ebooks you can check out for a week, but you have to have a Sony Ereader 700 ($340) or read them on your ocmputer. I want something I can carry in my pocket and read on the grocery line. Currently I use an old Sony Clie PDA I got on ebay for $50 and can read anything in Mobipocket, eReader, or Adobe (non-DRM). Its loaded with a pile of old Robert E Howard stories, A Robert Frost poetry collection, Lisabets RAw Silk, and a couple of erotica anthologies. I love the fact I can carry this big library in my pocket, but I want more!


  3. Hi Jim,

    Great post.

    It will be interesting to look back on all our thoughts here in 10 or 20 years time and see whether we've predicted correctly about the future trends. Chances are, by that point, eBooks will be as much a part of our daily lives as print books are nowadays.

    But, as you say, the most important thing is always going to be satisfying the reader, and I think that's something to which we're all committed.



  4. Jim, thanks so much for sparing us a little of your time, and welcome to the Grip.

    I totally agree with you in that it's the readers who will ultimately decide how they want to read their books. Price and availability of what they want, ease of purchase and use, are all important. But, we also have to educate people. A great many people over the age of say 40 may not even know what an ebook is.

    Sigh, here I go on my high horse again. LOL Great post, Jim. Thanks for sharing your take on the topic.


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