Saturday, December 31, 2011

Publishing in the New World

The world is changing, and more rapidly than I think anyone could have guessed.  There's a lot of talk about newspapers, and publishing in general, and where it's all going.  As the new year approaches, I am unusually flustered, and quite frustrated, in investigating new venues for my company.

I'm talking about eBooks... electronic books that you can read on your iPad or comparable tablet, or on a eReader such as the Kindle or Nook.  I love a good book that I can hold in my hand, and take to the beach, but I've been pulled into the eBook world as a matter of convenience, and just to check out what's new.  In a matter of weeks I've already purchased several books in different formats... mostly for business, but some for fun. I am disappointed in the one thing I thought electronic publishing would bring me... books that I can no longer find in print.  Apparently, there's a lot of the same books you can find on a bookstore shelf available in electronic format, but the entire history of publishing is still out there, waiting to be converted.  There are some books that I just can't find anymore, at a decent price anyway, and I was really hoping to rediscover them in this new format.

I digress,  As a publisher, I see a lot of potential in this relatively new format.  Unfortunately, most of what I have done is comic strip related.  After a LOT of investigation... reading everything I can find on the web, and just about every decent book I can find on the subject, it appears that eBooks are just not ready for image heavy books.  There are a lot of roadblocks, and frankly, it's a lot more work to convert a comic book to an ePub or other eBook format.  It has been done, and there are eComics out there, but everywhere I go I see stumbling blocks, and warnings.

I have created an ePub out of 3 Knights in India, and I have enjoyed tremendously revisiting this book!  I have made a version that reads very well in Kindle, but not so well in Nook.  Apparently, I will probably be better off either picking one or the other, or spending time creating two new books, one for each platform.  Frankly, I've put a lot of work into this already.  I'm warning all cartoonists to think before leaping into this new format of publishing.  I've wasted a lot of time, and so far have not accomplished anything.  The quality of eComics as they stand right now varies tremendously, and your eBook may not be accepted if the legibility is too low.  Amazon has ridiculous guidelines set right now for images, and those guidelines are already aimed at the future!  My images are much bigger than the asked for standard, but if I make them any smaller, then they become very difficult to read.

Amazon also has an added charge of 15 cents per megabyte for downloading the book, and that comes from the authors profits.  As it stands now, if they were to accept the graphic novel, with well over a hundred large images, I would have to sell the book much higher than I'd like to get any profit at all. Not a good business plan, let me add, from experience, since selling Print on Demand is the same business plan. (Little profit for a lot of work)

So, a new year approaches, and I currently face nothing but frustration.  I won't give up, after all the work I have put into it so far, but right now I am not happy.  I am sure that one day, maybe soon, the industry may mature enough so that all the roadblocks I'm facing now will disappear,  When that time comes, however, the market will be flooded, and it will be all that harder to be seen in the crowd.

Think twice, cartoonists!  Maybe a small comic book can be done, but the world just isn't ready for an eGraphic Novel.  I've done the research, and if the answers are out there, those in the know aren't ready to share yet.

Happy New Year!    JOHN :0)

PS What I'm listening to? Andi Starr, Leaving the White Line

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