Catching the digital wave

Digital book sales, aka e-books, continue to soar.

According to the AP and other news reports, Random House has announced that they are digitizing thousands of additional books. Excerpts will be available online.

This move comes in the wake of the explosive growth of’s Kindle reader, which Oprah put on the map. I haven’t tried the Kindle yet, but if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll wind up on Santa’s list for it this year.

In general, it sounds like the heads of the book publishing industry must read the pixels on the wall and embrace ebooks, or risk becoming that industry’s next version of Detroit’s Big Three.

Of course, buried in the recent news reports about rise of e-books was the caveat that digital book sales represent only a thin slice of publishing’s pumpkin pie–estimated to be about one percent. But I’m old enough to remember when Japanese car makers had only a small piece of the American automobile market. Today, they’re cleaning our clock.

I do love the idea of being able to sample book excerpts and audio books online. That’s a powerful “sales lead-in” that’s going to encourage hard-core hardback book readers like me to jump aboard the e-book wagon.

I think it’s time for all of us to stop mourning the nongrowth of paper book sales, and celebrate the new digital age. It’s the future. Let’s embrace it. For example, last week when I posted, I was freaking out about the changes in the industry. This week, I have decided to reframe my thoughts about the book publishing crisis, and seek out the hidden opportunities in those changes.

Because ready or not, the digital era is here.

So what about you? Are e-books in your library yet? Have you asked Santa for a Kindle?

Update: Speaking of changes in the industry–in the comments, Joe alerted us to the fact that Houghton Mifflin has told its editors to stop acquiring manuscripts. Here’s a link to the article.

Oprah blesses the Kindle

The word sent a jolt through the author community:

“Oprah endorses Kindle.”

The Kindle, in case you’ve been marooned on another planet, is Amazon’s much-ballyhooed e-book reader. Oprah’s nod is likely to give the gadget a boost in sales. To quote one industry insider, a blessing by the Queen of Talk TV means that “the sale of Kindles will increase sales by approximately one bazillion percent.”

I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to gadgetry, so I haven’t tried the Kindle yet. But I was gratified recently to learn that my latest book, A KILLER WORKOUT, has been published in a Kindle edition. Now that my book has made its debut in the e-reader world, it feels like my baby has grown up and left home. And forgotten to send a postcard.

I’ve been a “slow adopter” when it comes to e-reader technology. Basically, this is because, 1) my daughter convinced me to buy a very expensive e-book reader years ago, and it broke within a month; and 2) I find it tiring to read text all day on the computer screen.

But I have to admit, there are some real advantages to e-books, particularly the Kindle. For example, when I heard that Kindle lets you increase the text size, I thought—“Okay, this is a winner.” Me and a silent majority of over-40 presbyopic-somethings, we’re yearning for text that is ten feet tall!

Plus, the Kindle promises that its “revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.”

I will definitely give the Kindle a trial run (probably by giving it to someone close as an Xmas present).

Meanwhile, I’m interested to hear from folks who have tried the Kindle. What’s the reading experience like? Authors, have Kindle sales boosted your audience?