"People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it," a cautious Ray Bradbury said. Per 100 hardcopies sold by Amazon in 2010, the online retailer sold 180 e-books for USD 8-12. The impact of electronic devices and a great array of titles are shifting an age-old industry. The book world, and the overall editorial world, is visibly developing
Market has changed. Today, in addition to be knowledgeable of books, editors, booksellers and readers need to know about formats, screens, models and social networks... The keyword is getting access to the audience. Sure enough, envisaging the future of bookshops, booksellers, editors and suppliers in such an atypical country as Venezuela is troublesome. But that is a different kettle of fish.
Just around the corner: 2012
As a matter of fact, overriding changes in books and reading are influencing editors and development of new tools.
Denying this piece of evidence or dismissing the digital language is turning away from a growing world where all of us, want it or not, should take part as a society.
2012 will be the year of consolidation of e-books. Last quarter of 2010, Amazon.com sold 180 e-books per 100 hardcopies. With prices of USD 8-12 for digital versions, it is a clear pointer to where the editorial market is heading for, with the added value of authors being exposed and being present everywhere. At long last we beat God! We are at a distance of a click from the whole world. Remember Newton's second law -force of friction. Yes, I am home, in front of my computer and can see a book of my interest. Get dressed, go out, get to the bookshop, buy the book, and come back home. And I need to hide it from any of my ex...
Through online shopping, I can download the book right away in the most appropriate format -Mobipocket, PRC, MOBI, EPUB, FictionBook, PDF, PS, HTML, TXT, and, generally, all those based on XML. Good bye, Newton!
As for readers, potential access to e-reading technologies is indeed a barrier. However, any computer with any free application provides access, and more and more people are getting at it.
"For editors, arriving at an arrangement with authors and agents with regard to digital rights both of printouts and new works is still difficult. There is no standard agreement on percentages for each party, and for this reason also there is much discussion around the world," said Patricia Arancibia, the editor of the international content for the digital division of US bookseller Barnes & Noble.
E-readers are not news. The newness of state-of-the-art devices lies in technology and design breakthroughs; direct access to some online large bookshops and a wide range of models in the market. This has encouraged competitiveness and gradual rebates. The "revolution" initially came with Amazon's Kindle and was notably bolstered by the newest iPad.
Digital books are entering the market, glaringly showing how technology helps provide new services to society.
Future bookshops will need to merge with any other products.
In the new way of doing business or e-business by the book sector, the stages of the digital model are still blurred. Trends include the extinction of booksellers and bookshops acting as intermediaries between books and readers. Publishers post their catalogues on the Internet and authors -some with great success- are their own editors. This is true for Amanda Hocking, 27, who writes what is known in the United States as "supernatural romance" -love stories featuring vampires. So far, the young lady has sold about 900,000 copies of her nine novels.
Bookshops should be able to adapt to circumstances, transform themselves. Booksellers will deal with editors the editions on request.
There are experiences already of booksellers marketing out-of-the-catalogue books and auteur editions to be printed in the Expresso Book Machine -a machine which prints book in five minutes.
What is the shelf life of books inside a library? Peculiar data were supplied by HarperCollins editors: 26 readings for disposal of the book due to wear and tear. Instead, e-books do not suffer wear and tear, or humidity. Note also storage saving. An interesting experience in these lands is that of the Public Library of Zulia state (west Venezuela). As regards books and technology, many pages and bytes lie ahead.
Translated by Adrián Valera
María Magaly Contreras (55) is Venezuelan. She lives in Zulia state, northwestern Venezuela, and advertises herself as a "tarot card reader, clairvoyant and spiritual guide" on her @marletmaga Twitter account.