Are apps a financial pitfall? Publishers can’t agree!

6 Jun

From the introduction of ebooks into the public market, a divide has existed within the world of book lovers.  The elderly, assumed to hold dear the traditional mass market paperback mystery or romance, responded with surprising enthusiasm towards the new devices.  My grandmother will vouch for ebooks any day: enlarging the font, easing the arthritis in her wrists by not having to constantly turn pages and being able to buy and read directly from the comfort of her own home are all perks that the traditional book just can not offer.  However, now that some companies are seeing ebooks bypassing the traditional books in sales, we know that the public has taken to the concept of ebooks – but have the publishers?

According to Hannah Johnson’s article in Publishing Perspectives, they have not.  Panelists of the IDPF Digital Book Conference remained unsettled about the future of apps and ebooks. Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks remained on the positive side while Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury and Richard Nash of Red Lemonade and Cursor held back, claiming not to see the full potential of storytelling through apps just yet — and I can see why.

Publishing has never been the industry to draw people in with a promise of a fat paycheck; those in this industry are in it for the love of books and purely that.  However, though most publishers strive both to bring the public wonderful literary works, they also desire fair wages for the talented creator of said literary work.  The introduction of apps and ebooks, though appealing (mainly, I would argue, as a source of drawing young adults and children back into the world of literature) are costly to produce and sold for a miniscule amount of money.  I can immediately see why Schnittman worries that apps will not pay for themselves and that their production yields higher costs than their purchases can cover.  Are the introduction of apps a double-edged sword? And in the case that they are, what is worth cutting: the chance to pull non-believers back into reading or the deterioration of the already staggering financial aspects of the industry?  For a traditional book lover like myself, being armed with white pages, black type, glue binding and my own imagination is enough; all the bells and whistles can be fun but are by no means necessary to help me enjoy the book.


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