Publishers at last week’s Future of the Book conference in Auckland are getting behind an initiative to create and market an ebook list of some of the best New Zealand titles.
Dubbed the 1000 Great New Zealand eBooks, the idea is to provide a focus for the industry’s own move to digitising books, to provide a platform for a joint marketing programme, and to generate public interest in e-reading.
One reason the latter is especially important is that a reader’s first experience with e-reading should be a good one. That means having really good ebooks to try rather than the usual bundle of free classics which aren’t necessarily the first choice for readers.
The initiative has come out of the Digital Publishing Forum, of which I’m director, and over the coming months we’ll be putting together not just this ebook list but some innovative ways to get the quality New Zealand ebooks in front of the public, both within New Zealand and internationally. Ideas we’re looking at are free samplers, inexpensive ebook rentals, subsciptions, and hopefully some bundling deals with e-reading device manufacturers. We’ll be talking to potential partners such as booksellers, libraries, media, device suppliers, distributors, and publishers over the coming months.
The first step for publishers is to submit the books that they will consider adding to the list, whether or not they are currently in ebook formats. The submission form can be downloaded from the Digital Publishing Forum site. Copyright Licensing Limited, the publishing industry’s rights agency and main funder of the Digital Publishing Forum, is coordinating the project on behalf of publishers. We’re working to a 31 August deadline for submissions.
Once we have a list of likely candidates, we’ll be able to work through the logistics of putting the list together and hosting it ready for distribution to the public in New Zealand and to international markets.
We hope that the 1000 Great New Zealand eBooks project will provide the industry with an excellent platform for generating interest in e-reading. It should bring some early revenue into the market and will get New Zealand publishers, booksellers and others into the digital realm as quickly and simply as possible.