Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Making E-books Is Harder Than It Looks. From @thezackcompany

As the Department of Justice faces off with the major publishers and Apple, I want to offer up a simple statement that likely contradicts what most readers believe: Making e-books is harder than it looks.

As a literary agent, I fell victim to the same false conclusions I think most readers do, that e-books are easily produced from paper books. But that's not quite true. For older books, publishers didn't own the typesetting file (the typesetter did) and those files were not usually maintained forever. So publishers often have to physically take an old book and have it scanned and then converted using OCR -- optical character recognition -- which is far from perfect. So publishers -- good ones at least -- then have the resulting file professionally proofread for scanning errors. And in a perfect world, they also ask the author to proof it again.

Then there's the question of rights. For older books, the publisher may not have the right to use the cover art in an e-book. Granted, these would have to be much older books, as most publishers started asking for display rights a longer time ago than the Kindle has been around. These display rights are generally interpreted as allowing publishers to display the cover online or on the screen of an eBook reader. But if the publisher doesn't have those rights, it must acquire them or create a new cover. And new covers cost money.

Then there's the question of originals. Originals are books that are first appearing in eBook form and are not reprints of previously published books. And here the argument that eBooks should be cheaper and easier to produce than paper books really fails. To produce a quality eBook takes just as long and costs just as much as producing a quality paper book. Yes, you save some money on paper, printing, and binding. And you save some money on warehousing and shipping. But you incur other costs. But first let's look at the commonalities.

Read on here.....

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