Dispatches from the Digital Revolution

Publishers taking active role in ebook promotion: Is anyone listening?

We all know that ebooks get a bad rap sometimes. Whether it is due to pricing issues or poor formatting, ebooks always seem to be in the hot seat—right alongside their publishers. Some people love to point out that publishers are in backwardsland, lacking the technical know-how to leverage ebook capabilities, stuck on forcing exorbitant ebook prices.

Which is why I got pretty excited when I stumbled across this blog post over at Chronicle Books. Ali Presley, online marketing manager, writes:

When you think “ebook,” you probably think of novels—or maybe even nonfiction books like dense World War II histories or business books. Certainly text-heavy books were the first to be translated into digital but thanks to improvements in ereading devices and ebook formats, today you can find nearly any type of book in a digital format.

In fact, here at Chronicle we have a goal to publish all of our new titles in both print and digital. Heavily illustrated and custom fonts? No problem. Tons of stunning photos? Bring it! We’re learning to translate even the most design-heavy works into gorgeous ebooks.

Presley discusses their new ebooks, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones and True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps, both of which draw on design principles similar to print counterparts and includes sample screen shots of a few of the pages so readers can see the designed pages for themselves.

But I’m wondering—how many people are reading? Chronicle promised to give away copies of these ebooks to a couple of lucky readers who left comments on the blog post, and I was sad to see that there weren’t too many commenters. Perhaps this could have been a bit of bad luck (the post was released right around Hurricane Sandy), but it did make me wonder—are people interested in reading behind-the-scenes from the publishers? Do they even read the blogs of their favorite authors?

Maybe I’m in the minority because I have a vested interest in the publishing industry, but I think what Chronicle Books is doing is pretty fantastic. And this is not the first blog post they’ve done on the subject, either; Presley has also written about other topics, including how an ebook is made. I’d love to see more of it. In contrast, if you look at Random House’s collection of blogs, you’ll see that some of the links are pretty old, going right back to 2006. More current posts are mixed in, organized by imprint rather than by date. Is this a lost opportunity? Is anyone listening, anyway?

Whatever the case, I admire Chronicle Books for taking a big step toward building direct relationships with their readers and letting everyone know what they’ve been up to lately. Particularly in contrast to other miscellaneous reports, such as this Forbes article, which focus on what can go wrong with ebooks.


This entry was posted on November 15, 2012 by in Business, Culture and tagged , , , .

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