There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to… The Outer Limits.
— Opening narration – The Control Voice – 1960s
This past Friday, Follow the Reader’s weekly Twittersation (#FollowReader), took a shot at having a discussion on eBook pricing and distribution. It’s a rapidly developing and chaotic world, this eBook world. There are a lot of players, and there is a lot of confusion — over price, over formats, over standards, over distribution, over rights and territories — etc., etc., etc. So, it was perhaps not surprising that the eBook Twitter Chattersation was not only quite robust, but also quite all over the place.
And, it was quite well-attended. Sure, I was sad that more of the e-publishing-side players didn’t show up for the conversation, but I was thrilled that lots and lots of e-reading tweeps DID show up for this particular discussion. Is it ironic, or just expected that while readers were there and were quite vocal about what they want, few from the publishing side were there to hear it?…(old patterns in a new medium? could be.)
What is clearly clear amidst the confusion: the reading (and by reading, I mean reading and purchasing) public are paying attention. This is not your grandfather’s “book” consumer. This is a new generation of readers who want WHAT they want WHEN, and HOW they want it.
They don’t want to be locked into devices and formats. They do want lots of choice and lots of title selection. They will not pay a premium for no perceived value. But, they will pay for demonstrably enhanced, rich content that adds to the reading experience. And, they are increasingly aware that they have the purchasing power to dictate where the market will go.
In other words, if e-book publishers/e-reading device manufacturers/and e-reading software developers want to make it in this game, they had better put on their listening ears and start showing up to hear what the e-reading public has to say.
Yup. Lots of opinions about eBooks and eReading were expressed last Friday. And, the whole conversation made me giddy with hope that the future of book publishing will be entirely driven by proactive and very engaged readers (in the business world, they refer to this as “consumer demand”).
I, of course, prefer to take this to the Utopian extreme. Imagine a world where readers are in control of the “programming.” That’s right — no more publishers controlling the transmission. Instead, readers will be controlling what gets published, when and how!
Yes, it’s a bit radical, but this is not so far from where things are headed .
What time is it? According to my Kat-watch, it’s a really good time for publishers to ask themselves exactly what purpose they serve in a world where they no longer control the transmission. My hope is that they’ll take more of an interest in the programming — you know, maybe focus on curating quality content that meets the needs and desires of their reading audience? Maybe they should try that kind of thing.
That’s where I’d be focusing if I were an e-book (or print book, for that matter) publisher 😉
And, speaking of #FollowReader TwitChats — don’t forget to tune in to today’s #FollowReader Twittersation, starting at 4PM EST. Just head on over to Twitter and search by #FollowReader. Hope to see you there!