Apple–> iWork –> Pages — > E-Pub –> NO WAY!

Lately there’s so many new developments in the world  of of publishing and e-reading, that it’s hard to keep up. You, Gentle Reader, may only be visiting this blog to see what I’ve been up to, and I can tell you that my word count was low last week. I also went on a crazy 60 mile bike ride of the Chicago Boulevards, and I survived.

But you, yes you, the other Gentle Reader, the one in the corner taking notes quietly on your iPad, you are probably here for some tidbits about the publishing industry, right? It was not so long ago that this blog used to pride itself on chronicling a writer’s foray into the publishing world. Well, that world has changed recently, and I think these posts will reflect those changes. Because after all, it turns out I do have a thing or two to say about publishing. Not only have I spent my professional life working for publishers ranging from Tribune Company to Encyclopedia Britannica, And then this year came the publication of “The 12 Burning Wheels.” Along the process of working with M Brane SF on its publication, I have learned that the landscape of traditional book publishing has given way to new freedoms for writers, and new pitfalls. Let’s summarize some of our latest findings, shall we?

Firstly,you should know Kindle 3 is out now. It’s not only cheaper than an iPad, it continues to specialize itself as one of the best e-readers. If you are a true reader, you would probably choose this over an iPad. It’s quiet, keeps your attention on the text, and it is now more portable and affordable than before. Here’s some reviews.

And as if that weren’t enough, the competition is heating up. E-Readers are literally about to fall from the sky.

But it’s this week’s second news item that is really groundbreaking. Apple has finally enabled its iWork suite to let content creators self publish even better and faster. As Mike Cane predicted some time ago, Pages can now finally export to ePub, though many of its tags and conversions still leave a lot to be desired. No way! Yes, it’s true, I told myself. Why is this move on Apple’s part important? Well, they now enable you to create your own published work, whethere essay, short story, novel or even a book with multimedia, and now that you have exported to ePub, it’s that much easier for that book to live in the iBooks store or to even live in other e-readers (though don’t get all hot and bothered. Many of the readers still retain their proprietary formats). Pablo Defendini provided a nice summary of some of the details, check it out.

You can even see some interesting screen grabs of output to E-Pub over at ThreePress. Whoa.

I myself didn’t think this moment would come so soon. Now many authors, if they so choose to embark on the trip, can get their work out to market with reasonable costs and with a direct line to their audience (using their own web sites and other Web 2.0 communications tools). Don’t get me wrong here, though. The publishing house, the editor, the copy editor, the graphic designer are still needed, more than ever before, but these new developments allow authors a direct path to market and a way to see bigger profits by bypassing agents and publishers. Is this path the correct one for every author? Probably not. Is every author’s work good enough to go to market? We know that is not so. But we also need to see what the market will dictate. If I can buy a book or e-book directly from a writer, and his or her work is good, what’s the problem, then? I’m glad to give them my money. They made the art, I will gladly pay for it.

As go dive into September we’ll address usability issues in the format war of the e-books (a war which Amazon seems to be winning right now with its cheap Kindle and giant Kindle store). It’s sort of sad that we have to talk about formats when it comes to e-books. After all, readers just care about books.  More details to come.

Have a good weekend, ya’ll.

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