E-books Dine-Out on Paper

At this year’s BookExpo held in New York at the Jarvis Center, I slipped into the Google Books panel discussion to “parse the significance of the e-book explosion and to explain Google Books’ position in it” as Publishers Weekly BEA Show Daily stated on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

In the crowded room, four publishing execs were quizzed on the impact and importance of the e-book format.

First question up was one of discovery. We know that ‘traditional’ readers find out about new books and authors by “browsing in a physical store.”

What we have today is a “system that’s ‘good for hunters, but not as good for gatherers.” You can find a book, if you know what you want, one of the panelists stated.

Google Book’s director of strategic partnerships, Tom Turvey, made the comment that “all book recommendation engines suck” and that there ‘isn’t an algorithm that can compete with a competent, real-life book seller.”

However, at another panel I attended, Google Books’ director of product management, Scott Dougall, asked the owners of an e-reader or tablet to raise their hands; he then asked those who had one at this time last year to raise their hands. The difference, about 50 to four.

That’s what is happening in publishing. Hard back, trade paperbacks, mass market books are increasingly e-books, in one form or another. The same problem, however, remains. How do you sell your book, e-book or print! It is an age old question, and unless the book is marketed (one way or the other) no one knows that you have written a book, or where to find it.

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