Welcome to Brave New Word.
You’re reading the first and perhaps last editor’s word from the eBooks team at Penguin Random House. We make and distribute the Penguin Random House eBooks you read on your tablet, phone, ereader, computer, or over someone’s shoulder on the number 12 bus. In this blog we’re going to bring you the latest word on eBooks we’re releasing, articles on how more complex eBooks work and what they do, write-ups on the wider digital publishing industry, and other things: we’re open-minded about it.
I’d like to quickly address something and then ideally, never again – there was an article in the Observer a couple of weeks ago that is representative of much dialogue on eBooks which featured the following:
‘Public affection for print runs deeper than some had thought […] optimism is rippling through the industry that it can weather the digital age. The idea that the eBook will kill the paperback seems increasingly like a tall tale.’
Speaking not for Penguin Random House, but just myself, I’m an optimist, and I’m excited about the possibilities of ‘the digital age’. For my small part in it, I’m not here to ‘kill’ the paperback, or any books, and I’ve spoken to my colleagues who assure me they aren’t either. They aren’t digital assassins or an electrical storm (there are a few other metaphors in the above example that I’ll skip for now) – they’re people with a personal investment in literature and the arts – that’s part of why they applied to work at a publisher – who are also interested in things digital. You’ll meet some of them in this blog. They’re a good bunch.
eBooks are, like any new technology, an opportunity. We can see them as threats or possibilities, and I know which of those options I prefer. My concern is that this metaphorical language about storms, death, and killing is leading people down Fear-of-the-Future Avenue, and underestimating readers and their willingness to engage with ‘the digital age’ as it pertains to reading.
That’s what this is all about – reading. It’s worth remembering it’s books that are our shared territory, regardless of how they arrive or how they’re presented, books that are paramount. If we’re going to be metaphorical, let it be about how, as readers, we converge in the same space, and about how, as people interested in digital technology, the future is a sunrise and not a sunset.
From one reader to another,