Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm losing interest in ebook news

I've mentioned many times before that changes affecting the publishing industry are taking place at an amazing pace. I keep up with them, but I don't know how long I can keep talking about them. Take today, for instance. Two big things happened.

Kobo, the Canadian ebookseller with its own ereading device, dropped the price of the Kobo Wireless eReader to $99.99 (with free shipping). That's huge! You now have a high-end device for a low-end price. You know that Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's nook will soon drop to that price or lower. Price of the reading device is no longer relevant to the ebook discussion.

Ed Victor, the venerable British literary agent, announced that he was forming a print-on-demand and ebook publishing venture called Bedford Square Books. He follows other recent moves by literary agencies such as Andrew Wylie's Odyssey Editions, Scot Waxman's Diversion Books, and, of course, the forerunner of them all Richard Curtis' E-Reads. All of these ventures offer slight variations on the business model but, short form, they all represent a significant shift in the industry enabled by ebooks and print on demand technology. After publishers, agents control more publishing rights than anybody. They are now exploiting those rights. It makes such good sense. What is now a trickle will soon be a flood.

Okay, so agents are going into competition with publishers. Yesterday, or maybe the day before, three of the big six announced the pending launch of, a social networking site that looks a lot like publishers going into competition with booksellers, at least of the Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Google type. I just watched an interview with the head of Lulu, the self-publishing giant, announcing a change in initiative inviting authors to become publishers, so that authors are in competition with publishers.

Imagine an elephant (the Big Six publishers) being swarmed by ants (content providers of all ilk). Will the ants eat the elephant's lunch? Or will the ants eat the elephant for lunch? If I were an elephant, I'd be nervous.

Be that as it may, publishing is changing irrevocably and precipitously. The news is outdated almost before it's reported. It's time to start focusing on what this is all going to look like on the other side of the news.

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