Short lived was the life of the ebook.
Though things could have been different. The end of the digital self-publishing era didn’t have to come to such a tragic demise. It could have been prevented. But people just couldn’t respect the developing medium. There was too much exploiting. There was too much noise. Too many haphazard pages. Too much launch fatigue.
In the end, the ebook was just too frail to survive.
Of course this melancholy funeral procession is simply a glimpse at a potential reality. But it’s one I hear many bloggers herald…
“Stop making ebooks!” or “Ebooks are so over.”
Seriously? Didn’t we just give birth to and cut the umbilical cord of the ebook?
Why ebooks aren’t dead; or why good content is immortal
If you think ebooks are dead you’re probably confusing content with medium. The medium of the ebook is important, but it’s not the most relevant element. Content is what makes an ebook great, just as it’s what makes a physical book great, or any other vehicle for information and transformation.
The “ebooks are dead” chant reminds me of the dot com bubble. Everyone jumped on the internet in the beginning, and just as many bloggers are jumping on ebooks now. Both the web and ebooks level the business and change-maker’s playing field. But they both still rely on solid ideas, business models and content that matters. Any medium can be ground breaking, but without the content and strategy to back it up, it’s a vacant house, an empty echo chamber.
Of course, there are some great things about the ebook as a medium:
- It increases accessibility and makes self publishing easier.
- It allows us to bypass gatekeepers and makes room for rising stars.
- Formatting can be more creative when released from the constraints of a typical book design.
- Embedding of other mediums, like video and audio, can be done more easily.
But it’s not short of limitations either.
- The web can easily become crowded with less than stellar ebooks since barrier to entry is so low.
- Formatting and design can be
slaughteredunderappreciated, creating some fairly atrocious results.
- Because ebooks are easy to create, many people without marketing experience underestimate what it takes to make an ebook successful.
- Just as design can be botched without proper assistance, so can grammar and flow without proper help from an experienced editor. There’s a reason why the creation of a book involves a team.
- (If you want more reasons why you shouldn’t write an ebook, they can be found here.)
With all of these drawbacks, will ebooks die anytime soon? I doubt it.
So, how do we avoid the noise?
I regularly get emails from people announcing their new ebooks (free or otherwise). A really popular tactic right now is the guest contributor ebook that’s a collection of different bloggers’/leaders’ thoughts on a particular subject. Each time I see one of these I think, “Here we go again.”
So the first part of standing out is to not do what everyone else is doing. But that doesn’t mean to not use the same medium as everyone else. Using your creativity in the wrong ways can keep you from succeeding.
Don’t follow the leader and do what worked yesterday. Be bold and don’t be afraid to take risks. Everyone is doing ebooks with text only… maybe you can include video. Everyone calls their ebook an ebook. Instead, call it a digital experience, a la Danielle LaPorte. Or create a new term or your own hybrid model (that’s the point, right?).
Innovators don’t have to compete on the same playing field. When you create your own game, you dominate it.
But don’t underestimate the power of creating great content that people want, even if you use the same medium and model as everyone else. Serving people is a strategy that I don’t see dying any time soon.
People also keep saying that print is dead, or that blogging is dead. Sure, it could happen, but will it any time soon? I doubt it.
As noise is increased and more mediocre ebooks are released, the market becomes more crowded. But this also creates greater opportunity for amazing content to rise to the top. And while others are screaming that ebooks are dead, we’ll go on releasing awesome digital guides that give people value and drive our blogs forward.