Nobody gives a gift of an eBook. Leaders, discuss!

bookstore  WHEN BOOK PUBLISHERS are discussed in the media, it is almost always the big fiction houses that are at the front of mind, bidding millions for the top authors and carpeting the world with big advertising budgets. But this sort of bestseller activity is the tip of a publishing iceberg. The book, as my good colleague Bob Bolick would often say, is a resilient piece of technology that ain’t going anywhere soon. It does its job very effectively, in print and in digital forms. In particular it is interesting to note that despite predictions, print is hanging in there. Nobody gives a gift of an eBook, whereas the printed issue is still a very attractive and welcome present.

I’ve recently given my Kindle to my daughter as I found I wasn’t using it any more. It was a welcome partner in my daily commute, but is an unattractive option compared to paper when reading for leisure. You can’t flick through an eBook to get to the good bits and it is even a bit clunky to skip the boring chunks. You can’t intuitively sense a change of narrative pace at the point you have reached in eBooks, nor can you experience the satisfaction of bounded comprehensiveness that comes from handling a good printed textbook or reference.

There are advantages to the eBook such as infinite extension to the wider web, seamless connections to other sources, and social commenting that enriches rather than enrages. As in architecture, very often the human spirit is not logical, and function follows form. We are at that point in book publishing right now. What is needed is strong leadership and vision to use the new forms to enhance the extent to which publishers meet the needs of authors and readers.

Kind regards

Duncan Enright, LeaderShape

Duncan has been a senior director with over 25 years experience in the publishing industry. He’d be delighted to discuss your leadership issues, whatever the size of your publishing-related concern. You can find out about his background here or contact him now.

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