Electronic Publishing and Its Issues
The growth of the Internet has provided an opportunity for writers as well as many new challenges. The new social media can help you in ways that no publisher could provide to a beginning writer in the past — if used correctly.
The use of the Internet for publishing and the citing of Internet sources in your writing is different than the print medium.
Electronic Rights Separate from Print Rights
Electronic rights are separate from print rights. That said, most publishers will want your e-rights as well as print rights for beginning authors.
In 2002 U.S. courts determined that print rights and electronic rights are separate. Random House was unsuccessful in preventing RosettaBooks from contracting the current works of such authors as Robert Parker and Kurt Vonnegut for electronic publication even though they were under contract to Random House for the print versions.
Publishers have been more careful to add these rights in their contracts since then, but contracts are negotiable. See Writing Contracts and Payscales on this site.
Your ability to separate the e-rights to your work will be easier for writers with extensive portfolios but you should also temper your decision to withhold these rights with your ability to market them yourself. Owning the rights and not being able to effectively market them will not increase your income.
E-publishing has become a part of most (if not all) publisher's business. Newer print-on-demand (POD) technologies have changed publishing to make this practical for many reasons — most of them economic.
There is nothing more economical than the traditional printing methods for economies of scale, but that requires a large market for the books printed that way and it costs a great deal to ship books. Print-on-demand provides a solution where a higher cost per book is offset by the savings in storage and transportation and allows niche books to be produced.
E-publishing goes a step further. There are virtually no storage costs, no shipping costs and the challenges presented by the large number of formats in the reading devices will be resolved soon.
Because of the increasing availability of dedicated e-readers like Amazon's Kindle and multi-purpose devices like Apple's iPad, the market share of e-books is growing rapidly — tripling from 3 per cent of book sales in 2009 to 9 per cent in 2010.
- The battle of the e-readers () CBC News.
- Comparison of E-book Readers on Wikipedia.
- eBook Reader Review.
Electronic Self-publishing Sites
- EServer.org: accessible writing is an arts and humanities e-publishing co-op based at Iowa State University.
- The E-Book Directory () can list your e-books.
The following pages on this site contain related information:
- Copyright and Electronic Rights: Laws and Agencies
- Writing Contracts and Payscales
- Web Design for Writers
Updated: May 21, 2011