Books are an endangered species, teetering on the edge of extinction. You probably wouldn’t guess that, judging from the rows full of them at Barnes & Noble, but pages and traditional publishers are dying at the gripping hand of greed.
So what’s the solution? Links. Links can save the book industry, and for that matter, the e-book industry as well.
How? Well, sponsored links, actually, unobtrusive related text.
Sony, which had previously been lagging behind Amazon’s Kindular success in the great e-book race, may have recently released a svelte new touch-screen competitor. But it, like its competition, isn’t going to save either the e-book or the non-e-book industry (take note that “non-e” will soon be the same as “none”).
The e-book market will, nevertheless, continue to swell, until one day people wake up with more advanced iPhones and iTablets in their hands and realize that, wait a minute, they already have solid reading equipment in their hands. Machines that cost a pretty penny at that – And they don’t have to carry around an extra object.
Not to say that the e-book concept is all wrong though. Manufacturers have it half-right. Allowing customers to browse and download e-books anywhere is a brilliant proposition and technology, but still, it’s lacking the missing link.
Statement: The Internet killed books.
Yes, it “killed” a hundred other things, including DVDs, newspapers, CDs, and encyclopedias, to name a few. But books are such a cheap, commonplace target that no one really ever considers losing them.
Consider libraries, for instance. Most visitors are there for one thing: the Internet. The web has replaced periodicals. Most kids only pick up a book for class reading assignments (if they don’t skim the Sparknotes online instead), yet kids do a huge amount of reading online, sharing links, intently reading social profiles, leaving reviews on gaming sites, and catching up in forums. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most young folk read about the “birds and bees” from Wikipedia before their parents even contemplate having the conversation.
Simply put, books aren’t as lucrative when the digital world promises the same information instantaneously and accessibly.
However, while most people may vilify the Internet as the murderer of the printed word, in stark contrast, the web could actually be books’ savior.
Google has mastered a world of information, virtually without publishing a word of it. It’s a company that has made billions of dollars by selling ads in our primary reading space. Every time we make a search and read the results, Google profits from ad placement.
Virtually everything readable on the Internet is free of charge. In fact, mention the idea of paying to read content online and most people (save Rupert Murdoch) would scoff at the very notion.
People aren’t willing to pay for something they can find for free elsewhere, which brings us to the book dilemma. Now that the ordinary person can get advice from WebMD or Hunch, who needs self-help books?
Book sales are facing a decline, which is precisely why publishers are trying to tighten their grip on all the original content they can, resisting the flow of openness in a digital age.
In a time when netizens make online profiles, upload unlimited media, and get vast amounts of information without the slightest charge, the freeconomy has become a prevailing
mindset. It’s just what people expect. And… it’s making money.
If book publishers think they can still charge for data, they’re wrong, and they’re going to fail.
So how can the e-book succeed and how can the publishing industry win?
The same way Google has: sponsored links.
The divided and diverse book publishing industry must team together and open up every archived book free of charge to readers from virtual cover to virtual cover in one unified online library.
Each e-book device or application would feature a simple and separated unobtrusive line at the bottom of the page featuring a sponsored link relevant to the information being read. For example:
“Buy Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on DVD,” or “Visit where Roald Dahl grew up in Weston-super-Mare.”
The revenue from these ads would be shared among publisher and author. The more a book is read, the more ads are seen, and thus, the more revenue produced.
The book industry knows its days are numbered but instead of revolutionizing their precious product, publishers are holding up a stiff arm in protest.
Saving a dying product isn’t difficult, it just takes unity, vision, and leadership.
It takes freedom.