A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
Love them or hate them, ebooks and ereaders are here to stay, having arrived in our lives with dizzying speed. The journey from cumbersome curiosity owned by a few to essential companion of millions has taken less than five years and revolutionized the world of publishing.
Many diehard “real book” readers have been won over by how easy they are to use, load with books and carry around – not to mention the sheer novelty of being able to hold an entire library between your thumb and forefinger. Authors frustrated by conventional publishing are gleefully ploughing their own furrows – having fun and making money into the bargain – and canny publishers are themselves getting in on the act, converting their bestsellers into digital downloads, sometimes with very uneven results, betraying the speed with which they were hustled onto the market. Sales of erotica and romantic novels have soared – because sitting on a train with an ereader, you could be reading anything, from Proust to pornography, and no-one is any the wiser (which only goes to show how many people chose their ‘public’ reading matter with appearances in mind).
All is not golden in the digital publishing field however. For one thing, books that would (and should) never otherwise have seen the light of day are flooding onto the market. Circumnavigating agents and editors and publishers is all very fine and dandy, but the results vary from the breathtakingly good to the truly god-awful.
For another, High Street book shops – already struggling – are inevitably suffering in the ebook revolution and naturally Amazon is doing what it does best: threatening total world domination with its all-conquering family of Kindles.
Plus, of course, many people simply HATE the whole idea.
We’re certainly witnessing a revolution, but are we also witnessing the death of ‘real’ books, or will ebooks and ereaders sales find their own level once the novelty has worn off and people discover that you can’t rid an ereader of bath water by draping it over a heater?
Here on Vulpes Libris we have quietly been reviewing ebooks for a couple of years, but we thought that the time had come to tackle the subject head on, which is why, from the 21st of May, we will be running a series of features, reviews, interviews and opinion pieces on all things ebook.
We’re still working on the final schedule for the week (which looks as if it might turn into a fortnight), but among items definitely on offer will be:
Anne Brooke – who has embraced epublishing with characteristic enthusiasm – will be explaining exactly what the digital revolution means for her and writers like her.
Jackie Hixon proud owner of a Nook, will be looking at the pros and cons of ebooks versus print books.
Also joining us:
The Coffee Crew: A group of friends who are also successful, published romance writers, who gather to share professional news and views, critique each other’s work and motivate and inspire. They have now also branched into ebooks and will be telling us how, why and how well it’s working.
Richard Ommanney: The television scriptwriter and comedy script consultant, who published his first novel – Jerome’s Angel – on Kindle. We will be both reviewing the novel and talking to Richard about his life, his work and why he chose Kindle:
Most publishers will only consider submissions if they come via an agent, and unfortunately my agent only deals with screenwriting. So no publisher has been approached yet. But obviously I would like Jerome’s Angel to be published some day. When I heard about Kindle publishing it seemed like a great opportunity to test the water. I’m flattered by your comment that you’ve never read another book quite like it. But that may prove a problem in marketing terms where catch-all labels like Romcom, Vampires, Thriller, Chick Lit etc are preferred. But I guess Romcom would be the label that comes closest. Jerome’s Angel is, above all, about the power of love and everyone’s need for it. A huge advantage of ebooks is that potential readers can read the first couple of chapters for free. If they’re not hooked on Jerome’s journey by then, or his mother’s, they never will be.
As a bit of a teaser, this afternoon we’ll be publishing an extract from Jerome’s Angel … following the story of young Jerome Belfrage and his mother Hortense in their tragi-comic, haphazard search for love and fulfilment in eccentric middle England.
(To read the extract, please click HERE.)
(ereader image courtesy of umpcportal.com on Flickr, reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence.)