Friday, March 14, 2008

UK Trade's Ditital First Steps

The Bookseller in its feed today has let the secret out. They report on the news that the ebook programme has now unofficially landed and being powered not by the publishers but as we predicted at the New Year, by the retailers on both sides of the pond.

Waterstone's and Borders are now poised to put their muscle into the market and although sales will be small the acts themselves will kick start the publishers into action. With Gartdners Books now well under way and offering all the ability to participate we can start to see the Brave New World that we wrote about some 18 months ago.

Rights will be and should be an issue and will take time to resolve. Authors need to be rewarded and the debate over investment is understandable but investment is in the main a one off exercise and brings with addition opportunities and this should not be at the cost of the author. The likes of Gardners and others have stepped up to the challenge and have grappled with the issues. We must recognise that digital content is part of the landscape if you want to be in the market moving forward.

The question of Kindle versus Sony versus online versus iPhone is not for today. But what is an issue for today is building consumer confidence and awareness and matching their expectations. It would be stupid to make a huge fanfare and only have a small fraction of people want available and at a price that is unacceptable.

Audiobooks are also at a watershed and finally have the ability to break out of the DRM straightjacket but again we must address pricing issues and availability now.The industry has a long time to debate the issues and prepare itself now its time to move forward with caution but with purpose.

So 2008 looks as predicted as being the first giant step forward for digital content but is only one step in a long journey and is not yet a leap into the digital world.