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» » News18 Shorts

e-books' sales up as hardcovers gather dust

Sep 24, 2010 12:45 PM IST Books Books

Hardcover books are gathering dust -- thanks to the e-book boom. Publishers say by 2015 e-books could represent 50 per cent of their revenue. And as novelist Stephen King says he's been ahead of the pack publishing a book online years before the Kindle took off. 'The Shining’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘Misery' -- the mere mention of his books’ titles evoke fear. “A lot of people think they are going to be scared of me, but I'm civilized,” says King. The best-selling author built his career on frightening people through the written word. He sees things in ways others don't. So years before most authors even thought about e-books, King published a novella online. It shocked the industry and got him a lot of attention. “I got on the cover of Time Magazine. For once in my life, I got noticed at airports by the guys who wear suits and ties. They would come up to me and say, ‘How did that work? How did that sell?’ They were fascinated by the business aspect. That was a decade ago. Today, the e-book industry is on fire,” he says. Amazon is selling more e-books than hardcovers. Making up more than 8 per cent of publishing revenue, up from 3 per cent a year ago and on track to hit 50 per cent by 2015. Some studies show, when people own e-book readers, like Kindles and i-Pads they buy more and read more. But does it mean the death of traditional books? The Internet in many ways killed the music industry, so why wouldn't they do that to books? King said: “Well, I'm not sure that it won't. The book is not the important part. The book is the delivery system. The important part is the story and the talent. Content -- pardon the pun -- is king. I feel like there are twice as many people working here today as there were a month ago.” Jane Friedman used to run major publishing house Harper Collins. Today, she's the CEO of Open Road Integrated Media, a company that publishes e-books. Open Road is also among those adding video to e-books by authors like Pat Conroy, who wrote ‘The Prince of Tides’. Not be afraid of critics, other writers to write something so bold, hoping to enhance the e-book experience. “I actually was very involved with starting the audio book business. And we have people who said, ‘Why would I ever listen to a book? I like to turn the pages. The e-book is just another format,” said Friedman. Asked if King reads his own books, he said: “Very rarely. Very rarely. I know how they come out. Books will always exist. Will they be what they are now? Absolutely, they will not.” Does that make him sad? “Oh, man, does that make me sad? If I say yes, everybody will understand that. The answer is the future's going to be what the future's going to be.” But that would be with one potential drawback. “If you drop a book in the toilet, you can fish it out and dry it off and read it. If you drop your Kindle in the toilet, you are done,” King added.

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