From Publishing Perspectives:
Publishers have converted a huge number of their books into ebooks over the past few years.
For these converted books, most publishers think, “we’re done.” I think they should be thinking, “we’re just getting started.”
That’s the way it is with a 1.0 release of software, and I think publishers should view ebooks as software.
Let’s back up a bit. Why did publishers convert at all? Here are some possible reasons.
- They believed that ebooks would be profitable, especially since low-quality conversion was so cheap.
- They were skeptical that ebooks would be profitable, but low-quality conversion was so cheap that it was worth hedging their bets.
- They feared Amazon’s reprisal against their paper sales if they failed to get on board with Kindle.
. . . .
What I want to emphasize is that low-quality conversion, because of its low cost, was a critical enabler for entry into the ebook market.
I used to rail against low-quality conversion, to whoever would listen. Then, I had a humbling realization. Publishers did exactly the right thing in opting for low-quality conversion, because it allowed them to enter a new market quickly and with low initial investment.
But I haven’t become too humble: I think they did the right thing for the wrong reason. They think they converted cheaply and now they’re done. I think they did the right thing to convert cheaply, but they should just view those conversions as version 1.0.
. . . .
Another way of putting this is that publishers need to start treating ebooks as software, since ebooks are software.
- Software has bugs that need to be fixed.
- Software needs to evolve as its environment changes.
To be fair, nothing in publishers’ previous, paper-based business would have prepared them to understand the dynamics of software.
. . . .
One might think that publishers’ quality process savvy would have ported well to the world of ebooks. Sadly, this could hardly be farther from the truth.
As far as I can tell, these time-honored quality control processes almost never happen to ebooks. This is especially puzzling in the case of bug fixes, since the ebook medium drastically lowers the cost of reporting and fixing typos.
Paper books don’t have a button allowing a reader to report a typo to the publisher. But, Kindle books might as well not have such a button, since, in my experience, publishers hardly ever act on Kindle typo reports. I made hundreds of such reports before realizing that it is virtually pointless to do so.
Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives
PG says the 2.0 version of lousy ebook editions of backlist books won’t happen. Big Publishers regard ebook backlists as cash cows and you don’t put cash into cash cows.