Ebook: the word itself is both state of the art and outdated.
State of the art, because in terms of features, ebooks are ever flowing onward, and in many directions. An ebook can sing to you, can put your portrait inside its "pages" and show you movies. An ebook can watch you read and tell others what words you skipped and which words you looked up.
And yet... the 'e' in ebooks stands for electronic which, in 1971, was a futuristic word. Now, in the era of WiFi, iPhones and the net, the word "electronic" seems very common, if not old-fashioned. Retro.
It is time to rethink the 'e' in 'ebooks'. Actually, I have been doing so for the past week or so. I thought that the 'e' should perhaps now be perceived as 'entrepreneurial'. This would reflect the important milestone that self-publishing has become. However, 'entrepreneurial' somewhat diminishes the role of established publishers who, thankfully, are still in the picture.
Other words, like 'egalitarian' and 'enhanced' didn't seem quite right. ...and then...
Ebooks are empowering. The internet is still a level playing field. If an author, a publisher or a group is focused and united, ebooks with a common theme can find their place in the sun. Shades of Gray began in a fan fiction group.
Certainly a cause as large and important as Diversity in Books can find ways to share the stories that all people have.
Suggestions for moving forward
The first ebook was an electronic version of the Declaration of Independence. Because of the empowering nature of ebooks, perhaps the way forward is to act independently of the established powers that be. Some ideas...
- Study the book discovery programs of organizations like Smashwords, Jellybooks, Uncovered, Noveltunity, Goodreads and others to see how they present the concept of book discovery. Do they "naturally" have a diverse range of titles? If not, can a case be presented to them to increase their product line? If existing Diversity Books can be discovered by more readers, it encourages the future of the movement.
- The #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag has been effective. It needs continuing support.
- There are niche web book stores that are focused on one topic: cookbooks, computer programming, pets etc. Is there now an online store specializing in Diverse Books?
- Amazon! Their business development people should surely be aware of the Diversity Books movement. In addition to established genre categories, should they consider the possibilities raised by the Diverse Books movement?
Note: this is a spontaneous reaction, written just after learning about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag. (Thanks, Joyce Chng! These essays are more eloquent:
Touches upon many issues, including the importance of marketing
(This post also includes tips on how support diversity in books.)
Quick note about me. My father sold/sells all kind of books to schools. I have spent over half my life in Asia, in several cities.The topics of my books include: Barack Obama, pre-Linotype printing, Bali and Japanese rice seasonings. To put it mildly, I'm a fan of diversity.
A three part essay about my experiences with ebooks here