The Future of Book Publishing
By Mark Ortman

The following is an excerpt from the new third edition of A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing by Mark Ortman

Digital technology is quickly changing the way books are produced, published and distributed. On-line publishing has become an attractive alternative to the high costs of conventional publishing, making it easier for writers to become published authors. The two general ways are:

Electronic Books. This is when you submit your manuscript in a digital word processing format, then your manuscript is converted into a document people can purchase over the Internet. Electronic books are sometimes called eBooks, virtual books, digital books or on-line books. eBooks are paperless. They are a full-length manuscript which is downloaded as a data file directly to the purchaser's computer. The self-publisher retains all rights and is free to print through conventional means if the demand warrants. The cost to produce an eBook is considerably less then conventional means. Fees typically run under $1000.

eBook publishing is a prudent way to test market your book or publish when there is a specialized or limited audience. Since there is no inventory, an eBook is sold for significantly less than a traditional hard or softcover copy. Orders are handled through a contracted eBook distributor, then a royalty is paid to you for each sale. Royalties range from 30% to50%. Even though your eBook will be made available through many on-line bookstores, it is still in the self-publisher's interest to actively promote the eBook.

Print-on-Demand (POD). Most eBook distributors can also print your book in a hard or softcover version. Print-on Demand means your book is printed and shipped to the quantity ordered. If a bookstore wants to purchase a single copy, it is able to order without the transaction going through you. This eliminates the self-publisher's cost of inventory, shipping and returns. If the demand for your book becomes substantial, then printing through conventional means may be justified.

Certain constraints do exist with POD technology. Books must be more than one hundred pages and with few photographs. Although the photo reproduction technology is imporving, pictures lack the crispness of lithography. POD books carry a higher retail price to compensate for production, convenience, wholesale discounts and a profit.

POD technology is the future of book printing. As this technology matures, booksotres will be able to produce hard or softcover editions of any book in digital format with electronic kiosks. The customer can view a portion, or the entire book, read reviews and order right on the spot.

Copyright © 1999 Mark Ortman