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Author & Publisher Strategies

Old readers discussing new books

Mike Shatzkin describes the results of a question he asked the audience at NYU yesterday:

So, with time running out, I got the indulgence of the organizers to ask the crowd a couple of questions. The first one was: “how many of you read ebooks.”

Two hands went up. Two.

The next question was not worth asking. But I sure got a dose of new information to ponder.

There is a saying about eating your own dog food. Everyone talking about e-books needs to be reading them or admitting that many of them are unreadable. Books went through an evolutionary period when many poor copies of a title obscured the value of well-made and edited titles. With e-books, the formats are awkward to begin with, and the poverty of the technology is amplified by the badly converted texts, not to mention a lot of bad texts.

Readers will lead this change. That is doubly true of publishers who wish to lead a change toward digital texts, they need to read first and ask more of their titles before trying to sell them.

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