09 May 2008

Are we in a golden age for books? – Nick Travers On Writing

At the moment it seems to me that the retailers are driven by the best seller lists and the best seller lists are driven by corporate marketing budgets. This means that what publishers take from agents and what new writers agents take on is basically dictated by corporate marketing managers. For all the protests of publishers/agents loving books, corporate money is still king.

All it would take to blow this whole industry apart are for official best seller lists to include downloads and self-published sales.

When will this happen? When a really good, affordable, e-reader hits the market and an online review/best seller/POD/download site emerges with a reputation for offering better reads than in-store best seller lists. Serious readers will flock to it and the customer will once again be king.

Then, agents and publishers will take on writers who can hit the new best seller lists and anyone who hits it on their own efforts will be pursued by a flock, or is that a herd, of agents/publishers.

Does this mean the good times for writers are just round the corner? Unfortunately not. For writers such a paradigm shift will purely introduce a new dynamic: a whole new set of hoops to jump through on the road to being published. In this new world, though, impressing the reading public will help hugely in getting published. This is good news for readers everywhere.

Obviously I don’t think the Kindle is the e-reader the market is waiting for – it’s the wrong design - just too much like a PDA. No e-reader will ever replace books, but for readers to be happy using an e-reader as a substitute it will have to look, feel, and perform like a book. Nothing on the market so far meets those criteria. But it is only a matter of time.

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