Publishing in nine months

As always, when Mike Shatzkin blogs, I read.  And today he put out some thoughts on the future of publishing–the near future, just looking nine months down the line for the next Digital Book World conference.  As usual, I think he’s got a really good grasp on the changes and challenges ahead, including territory restrictions for e-books, selling and marketing directly to consumers, and the decline of the brick and mortar stores.

He’s also bullish about something that’s yet to appeal to me, a staunch e-book reader: illustrated e-books.  I love e-books–I buy at least one a week–and I love illustrated books of all sorts, from graphic novels to coffee table books.  But I’m having a hard time imagining my favorite illustrated books living on my iPad.  That’s not to say that I can’t imagine visually-oriented material doing well, things like the Elements app, for instance.  And, I do think there’s going to be a lot of creative and interesting interactive e-books for kids.  I just think I might have finally hit my own “but-what-about-the-smell-of-books” moment.  I love my illustrated books!  I love showing them off on my coffee table and bookshelves (and so many other surfaces around the apartment).  I like paging through them when I have a free moment, just ’cause they’re there.  Is it possible that I’m becoming a luddite?

No.  I like my tech, and I like the attendant usefulness and ease of digital products.  I’m sure I’ll find the illustrated e-book or book-like-product that will wow me to the point of purchase, and then I’ll start snapping up more of them.  But there’s no way I’m trading in my The Making of the Empire Strikes Back.

4 Responses to Publishing in nine months

  1. Thanks, Michael.

    Good post and an interesting read. Thank you.

  2. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, Michael. Strongly too. As an author of an illustrated book — Brooches: Timeless Adornment — having my book published in an e-book format would give the book another life and frankly, the images that we (the incomparable photographer David Behl and myself) worked so hard to create could have an even greater impact in this format. With all the dimensionality that the internet provides, just imagine how illustrated ebooks could be presented — these could bring the reader right into the image, together along with the text. It’s a way to experience books that could never have been done before. I love my coffee table books too. It’s just that, given the power of technology now, I think we need to broaden our perspectives to embrace books in ways that had never been considered before. It would benefit the industry as a whole and even create new avenues for authors, books designers, graphic designer, and publishers. This is important given all the somber news coming out publishing today. We’ve got to be innovative as the world marches on technologically.

  3. Michael says:

    As I said in my post, there’s much about illustrated material that can work well electronically. I don’t disagree with that at all. And we here at DGLM have always been open to new approaches and formats, and have quite aggressively been pursuing them.

    I’m just having my old-fuddy-duddy moment. I’m sure in the near term I’ll find that product that convinces me that the tablet is as good as my beautiful copy of X’ED OUT.

  4. If there’s room for one more fuddy-duddy on the bus, let me on. I just read about Shaun Tan this weekend and immediately went to order his books. In this case (and others like it), the iPad just won’t do.

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