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E-books and the Future of Publishing (part one in a series)

posted 6 Jun 2012, 04:07 by Oscar Duggan   [ updated 7 Jul 2013, 14:32 ]
This video that we came across recently on YouTube is reminiscent of the 2006 film A Night at the Museum; which includes the likes of Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke among an all-star cast from past and present (see IMDB for complete listings). This one however is set in a bookshop, without a cast of characters. Instead we are treated to an empty, deserted scene, which is entertaining nevertheless. A world of interest and intrigue but no one there to witness it. 

Of course some might say that this is the future which the advent of e-publishing holds for the book retail trade. So are bookshops really about to become a museum piece? Maybe not, as we will explain further, but watch the video first:  

A recent announcement by Waterstones might cast cold water on these projections.

We're excited to announce that Waterstones is partnering with Amazon to launch new e-reading services and offer Kindle digital devices through its UK shops.

By combining the best digital reading device available with the expertise and passion in our bookshops up and down the country, we hope to offer our customers a unique and integrated reading experience.

As well as getting full access to the huge range of eBooks in the Kindle store, at Waterstones you'll get personal advice and training, receive exclusive Waterstones content and be able to read for free in shops using our nationwide customer Wi-Fi. 

What all this effectively means is that customers will have a choice, between buying the printed edition of any particular book, or downloading the Kindle version instore. It is also reported that an upgrade of their retail outlets will include instore cafés, where customers can relax as they browse books. According to Waterstone's Managing Director, James Daunt, quoted in The Guardian: "We think this makes the Kindle experience better as you can now read digitally and enjoy the pleasures of browsing in a physical book shop."

All this heralds potential good news for authors and publishers, especially if Waterstones' initiative catches on. Reading by its nature is a solitary, individualistic activity, but it there is a definite social aspect to it too. Retail (including e-tail) is an important link in the chain of connecting an author's work with its readership. No matter how many reports you hear about the latest self-publishing success story, such reports do not fully convey the degree of hard work and effort involved in marketing and selling the finished product, especially if you are self-publishing. Success does not come overnight. 

Authors and publishers should take note of these developments, and take a lot of heart from them too. The announcement by Waterstones suggests that the retail sector has caught on to the innovations and developments that have taken place in the publishing sphere in recent years. This can only help boost sales for all concerned. 

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