Friend or Foe? by John Joseph Burhop

Publishing is a $35 billion industry. Up until just a few years ago, that meant almost exclusively books, magazines, newspapers, and other small items such as brochures and business cards. The internet has changed all that in more ways than one. Enter the eBook, or downloadable electronic book. Although early versions of the eBook have been around since the 1970’s, it wasn’t until late in 2007 that Amazon’s eBook Reader, the Kindle, was released, and not until 2009 that dedicated reading hardware was produced. According to the Association of American Publishers, eBook sales rose 176.6% to $169.5 million in 2009. Another report, this one conducted by Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology, predicts that eBook sales will cross the $1 billion line in 2011.

When I first realized that eBook Readers were already starting to render the paperback book obsolete, I became distraught. That’s because I had been working on my science fiction novel, on and off, for the better part of the last twenty years and it was very near completion. My novel was always meant to be a paperback; a handy little book that could easily fit in a backpack or a purse. I even knew what the cover art would look like: planet Earth in the background with my main character leaving orbit in his tiny spaceship while two unfolding alien spacecraft approached. I had it all figured out. I knew the printing industry was already getting hit hard but I figured the unique tactile act of reading a paperback book still had a good decade left in it. I don’t believe that anymore. Of course, there will be die-hard paperback fans for many years to come, but eBook Readers are already starting to mimic the experience of having an actual book in your hands. It finally dawned on me that eBook Readers were not my enemy, they were, in fact, very much my friend.

Finding a publisher who is willing to invest…

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