The promise of the e-book sounded so wonderful. Early e-book promoter billed the electronic documents as a true move to democratize the publishing industry–it sounded appealing beyond belief to anyone who has ever struggled to break into the traditional publishing world. The removal of halfwit agents, screening readers, rejection slips, contracts, and shoulder-chip bearing editors from the publishing formula was supposed to streamline the passage between author and hungry audience waiting for great content.
Even a few mainstream mega-star writers such as Stephen King
experimented with e-books and electronic distribution without the aid
of their usual entourage of agents, editors, designers, and publicists.
For those who have always winced at the thought of the vast tracts of
old-growth forests we have stripped, turned into newspapers or Stephen
King horror pulp, and then churned into the ground in landfills, the
e-book held hope that we may someday adopt a more sustainable and less
destructive publishing model.
Unfortunately, it soon became evident that the e-book would fall short
of much of that early promise. It was obvious that all those editors,
agents, and other gate-keepers were actually pretty important to the whole publishing process. Without them, e-books flooded the market that were poorly written, mistake-laden, poorly conceived rantings, or were filled with
blatant upsells for other poor products.
Today it is a rarity to find an e-book that is worth the electrons it
takes to transmit them from one computer to another. Those that are
worthy of our time and attention struggle to gain notice in the vast
field of poor products. It takes a rare and talented self-marketer to
gain attention and success with an e-book product today.
Add to these negatives the reader’s annoyance of having to either print
out the book (an expensive and potentially wasteful proposition) or
read the content while seated at a computer.
Most industry analysts have proclaimed the e-book a largely failed
development in the self-publishing arena.
Can the Amazon.com Kindle and similar e-readers again level the playing field for self-publishers and reduce the need for paper?
The Amazon Kindle is a runaway success. Although official sales numbers
are all but impossible to attain, rumors all over the ‘net place
projected Kindle sales for this year at around 500,000 units. Each unit
can hold up to 200 titles. All told, that is an impressive market
potential for content!
Now, here’s the really interesting part–Amazon has opened the
publishing process for the Kindle to all comers through its Digital
The Digital Text Platform allows self-publishers to create and easily
format books and other content for the Kindle. Once published and
accepted to the program, buyers may purchase and download your content
to their Kindle reader, just like any of the other thousands of
digitally formatted books. You set your retail price (between .99 and
$200) and you are paid 35% of the sales price directly from Amazon.
Learn more from the
Amazon Digital Text Platform web page here:
Will a Kindle digital book make you rich? Probably not. You will still
have the challenge of marketing and getting your work noticed. But for
the right book, the Kindle is a potential distribution
channel that may be worth a serious look. It is also a viable way to
widely distribute work without ever using a single resource other than
your own time, talent, and nascent electricity.
Sounds pretty low-impact…
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on Google Plus
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