For well over a decade, independent publishers have been publishing and marketing ebooks to a largely female audience. While the perception of ebooks is that they are more likely to be adopted by a younger, more tech-savvy audience, these independent publishers have found success by selling to a wide demographic of readers. Your grandmother reads ebooks.
While mainstream publishers initially viewed this market as fringe, in recent years, some have turned to these e-only houses to find new talent and to form marketing/distribution relationships. Traditional publishers have also introduced imprints and lines to challenge the market space occupied by these epublishers. Of course, these epublishers have countered by moving into the print market, finding shelf space in a time of shrinking retail spots.
Mainstream publishers such as Harlequin have responded to this growing market by embracing innovation and diversity, including making their entire front-list available in electronic editions when the print versions are released.
How has this female-centric ebook market thrived while efforts by mainstream publishers have found rough going? These small, independent entities have succeeded by offering readers what they want at reasonable prices; they’ve created easy-to-use marketplaces and made sure their books are available wherever ebooks are sold; they’ve released titles in DRM-free, device-agnostic formats, enabling their customers to choose how and where books are read; and they’ve developed strong author relationships through higher-than-average royalties and more timely reporting.
As traditional publishing houses move into the online market, they are not only competing with other media for readers, they’re also competing with independent entities who have developed loyal followings by not doing business as usual.
Kassia Krozser is the founder and primary voice for Booksquare.com, a website focused on dissecting the publishing industry with love and skepticism. She is also a founding partner at Medialoper.com — same love and skepticism applied to all entertainment media. Her work on both sites frequently focuses on how new technology impacts traditional media. She is a reviewer for PaperbackReader.net and a regular contributor to other publications.
Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-only press, and veteran of the digital publishing industry, Angela James is a well-known advocate for digital publishing. James has enjoyed a long and varied publishing career that has included ownership of an independent editorial services business, work as a copy editor for electronic book and small press publisher, Ellora’s Cave, and executive editor for Samhain Publishing. James frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers, and present workshops on digital publishing for both authors and readers of all genres of fiction.
Sarah Wendell is co-author of the book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, and co-founder of Smart Bitches Trashy Books.com, one of the most popular blogs examining romance fiction. The site specializes in reviewing romance novels, pondering the history and future of the genre in digital form and in print, and bemoaning the enormous prevalence of bodacious pectorals adorning male cover models. In fall 2011, Sarah’s next book, Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels, will be published by Sourcebooks.
A frequent speaker at national and regional conferences, Sarah will be the keynote speaker at PubCamp, part of the 2011 SXSW interactive, and at the 2011 Book Bloggers Convention, held prior to Book Expo America. Sarah has been quoted in People Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, USA Today, The New York Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro: New York, and Publishers Weekly. Sarah can be reached at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom, or via Twitter at @smartbitches.
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