I’d like to share some great insights on the e-book market that I recently picked up.
I introduced a panel on e-books at the Miami International Book Fair on Nov. 20. It was organized by Christopher Kenneally, of Copyright Clearance Center, and included Ami Greko, of the Kobo e-reader, and Argentinean publisher Ana Maria Cabanellas. The classroom was packed for their discussion and there were plenty of questions from the audience.
Greko was particularly giddy over Japan’s Rakuten recently acquiring Kobo for $350 million. Not only does that validate the importance of e-books, it should give Kobo access to more international markets, especially Asia and Brazil. Right now, e-reading is strongest in North America, Greko said, but international expansion could open doors for many authors.
“Small publishers have realized that their audience has been magnified tenfold because of the international market,” Kenneally said.
Still, downloading e-books is more difficult in Argentina and much of South America, Cabanellas said. They usually can’t be downloaded directly to mobile devices and there isn’t a large enough selection of Spanish books in digital format. Yet, the demand is there. Some “e-pirates” have copied thousands of books onto a CD and sell them all for $20, she said.
“If the book is ready in digital and at a good price, the pirates don’t do it,” Cabanellas said.
Greko touted some of the unique features of e-books. Kobo allows readers to share their favorite passages of a book on their Facebook and Twitter networks. An optional feature allows readers to track their reading speed. Internally, Kobo is debating whether it should share information with publishers about when readers stop reading certain novels.
Would it be helpful for publishers and authors to know that a certain chapter made many readers quit? By the time the book is already for sale, it’s probably too late to do much good. Greko noted that publishers are divided on whether they want this information.
I’m hoping that the launch of my novel Mute with Silver Leaf Books next year will be an international affair. I already have some fans in the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand that I met on Authonomy.
To hear this discussion from the Book Fair in full, check out the podcast at www.beyondthebook.com