Friday, August 6, 2010

The future is closer than we thought

I've been saying this for several years so really, it should come as no surprise when I use the cliche: The future is now and it's digital.

Why is this such a shock? Those of us in the digital marketplace can tell you, we've seen and lived in this new "scary venture" for years now and while the road's been bumpy, the journey has been completely worthwhile. Digital publishing is no longer the wave of the future. It's the new face of publishing.

When Dorchester, one of the oldest publishers of mass market trade paperback, announced today their decision to move to a digital sales model, leaving behind the mass market sales model and choosing a POD (print-on-demand) option, the outcry and shock hit the waves almost as fast as the announcement of a beloved artist's demise. Why the long face? Dorchester has simply taken a step toward improving their bottom line and in the process of doing so, will be able to provide authors with an opportunity to cut out the middle man.

No More Middle Man. What does this mean for authors? Higher royalties, less worry about returns and higher sales. How is this a bad thing? It's not the death of print. If I hear this cliché one more time, I think I'll scream. We're at a turning point in the publishing industry, a digital renaissance as-it-were and as it has been with every revolution, this digital one has opened new venues and opportunities for everyone. Yes, what iTunes has done for the music industry, the ePubs are doing for publishing.

There is a reason bookstores like Barnes & Noble put themselves up for sale. When sales via eReaders outnumber the physical sales at the brick-and-mortar stores, bookstores and publishers take notice. When the music industry changed, artists found themselves with the opportunity to make more money without having to loan out money to the record label for their talent. When books are not sold at the bookstores these return to the publishers who then charge the author a reserve against those returns. In digital, there are no real returns. Every digital download requested is what is supplied.

While the print world has looked for ways to change, digital publishers jumped into the fray with their eyes on the future and their heart in their hands. The leap has paid off handsomely. Today, Dorchester took that leap.

So to the naysayers and panic-stricken people who today were shocked by their announcement, I say, "Welcome to the Digital pool! The cabana boys are ready and the water's great! Take the leap!"