Last Friday I was interviewed on ABC’s News Exchange program about ebooks and their impact.
Click on the image to view the video of the program. The ebook segment is around 13:30 – 17:15.
We covered a lot of territory in the interview, ranging across topics including why ebooks are rising so rapidly to the impact on booksellers and libraries.
One of the topics we discussed is what I think is one of the most fundamentally important aspects of ebooks: how they are democratizing creativity.
Over the last couple of decades information technology has democratized many creative domains, notably music, film, and photography. The resources to create professional quality output in these domains are now available to almost anyone.
In the case of writing only minimal technology is required to create. However, as with music and film, digital distribution is completely changing the creative landscape.
Only a few years ago there was a massive divide between writers who were ‘published’ by a publishers and those who used self-publishing platforms. Today that divide has massively eroded as an increasing number of writers who could get publishing deals choose to publish themselves.
Over 170 authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their ebooks. The well-documented successes of John Locke and Amanda Hocking, who have both sold over a million copies of their ebooks and then used that to leverage extraordinary deals from publishers, have inspired many.
Just as in music and film, many fantastic artists never found their way to an audience in the publisher-controlled world of not so long ago. Today anyone has the opportunity to reach people and develop fans.
Of course quantity does not equate to quality, with much self-published writing hardly inspiring. However the new landscape is a boon for readers too, with avid audiences for many books that would never have been available before. Filtering is of course required, but these days the best (or at least most popular) writing is easily found.
In this world there absolutely remains a valuable role for publishers, not least in nurturing and editing talent, and giving weight to the book marketing process. But it is far better for both writers and readers that there are multiple and far more open channels to bring them together. Ebooks are a model for creative democratization.