Monday, April 22, 2013

The Question, April 22, 2013

What it Means
by Estelle Rosen

Christina Manolescu is the founder of Prince Chameleon Press: She has written, designed and published interactive story-workbooks for children, as well as award-winning literary fiction, poetry, and a step-by-step self-publishing guidebook. She has also undertaken translation, ghostwriting, editorial revision, book design, consultancy and print management for various clients, one of whose self-published books won a silver Ippy Award in 2009

CHARPO: The increasing popularity of eBooks has caused difficult times for the publishing industry. How has it affected Prince Chameleon Press? 

MANOLESCU: Well, I’d like to begin by quoting a factoid from Self-publishing Guru Dan Poynter’s 2012 newsletter. 

Among Americans who read eBooks, those under age 30 are more likely to read their eBooks on a cell phone (41 percent) or computer (55 percent) than on an eBook reader such as a Kindle (23 percent) or tablet (16 percent).

So what does that mean? Well, for me, surveying the evolving eBook landscape is like watching a slow-motion kaleidoscope reconfiguring itself over and over and over again. Why? Well, because publishers are striving to understand, keep up with, and even anticipate consumer preferences; at the same time, the unstoppable march of communications technology is driving us all toward the unknown. 

So much so that, till now, I’ve been taking a wait-and-see approach until the ‘E-landscape’ settles. It could be a long wait. I realize that, while I’m waiting and watching, I might well be left behind.

Learn by doing
Therefore it’s back to the drawing board or rather the desktop: I’m considering the best way to deconstruct and convert my dark-humoured novel,  BAGLADY, into eBook format. But I’m taking my time to do it slowly and do it right. And that’s because—like all other aspects of publishing that I learned only by doing—I want to micro-manage the process as far as I can.

That means figuring out how to design and put together the various segments of the eBook. It means understanding how to correctly incorporate the images, depending on what format is used. It means complying with techno-bureaucratic conventions. It means managing the commercial procedures as well. 

Take one example
Does an eBook need one or several individual ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) one for each electronic format (Kindle, Kobo nook, mobipocket, tablet, Ipad, and so on)? Although the Canadian book industry affirms the latter, there may be no absolute consensus yet. 

One last thought
I don’t regard the evolution of the eBook as a problem. Far from it. It even promises advantages over the traditional print model, the most obvious: reducing or even eliminating the cost of book production and storage. Yet one real challenge for publishers is greater than ever, what pundits now call the need for ‘DISCOVERABILITY.’ In other words, with the tsunami of print books and eBooks being produced every year, how do you stand out prominently from the rest of the crowd and get through to your potential readers? Conversely, how do readers find you?

In any event, will I fashion the BAGLADY eBook myself on my trusty home computer? Or will I—regretfully—hand it over to a professional company to finalize once I have master-minded as much as I can? Time will tell; meanwhile I promise to keep you posted, my fellow artists and friends.

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