The future of publishing: as frightening as any Stephen King story?

From The Guardian

The ebook revolution may be on its way. Amazon released the Kindle ebook reader last year, and estimates are that it has sold more units than Apple sold iPods in their first year of release. Amazon brought out Kindle 2 last week, with a specially written story by Stephen King to celebrate.

Among people I talk to in the world of publishing – authors, agents, editors and digital publishers – there’s some interest and a great deal of trepidation about what an ebook revolution may mean. Publishers worry about the potential for piracy. Comparisons with the music industry suggest this would be a legitimate concern. It’s not too hard to find illegally pirated ebooks: Googling “Stephen King ebook” brings up many links. This isn’t a huge problem at the moment because most people don’t like to read long books on computer screens. If there were wide ownership of a device that was easier to read on – and even the Kindle allows users to read PDFs via “experimental” conversion – that would quickly change.

But concerns about piracy may be a red herring. The ebook reader could have a far more immediate and profound effect on the way books are published and sold, and Stephen King handily provides a good example of it. In 2000, he published his novel The Plant as an ebook in instalments. He put it on his own website, circumventing the need for a publisher. Broadly, the experiment failed: you can read some interesting analyses on Salon, Wikipedia and Another Sky Press. It had a very idiosyncratic business model, and most people simply didn’t own devices that made reading a long ebook pleasant.

See the full article on The Guardian website