Polperro Postscripts

A blog for anyone with an interest in Polperro, publishing and people... with occasional musings on history and humanity.

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E-books

Posted on December 5, 2012

Two years ago, e-books were beginning to dominate discussions among publishers in the UK. They had been around for many years earlier but it was the arrival of Amazon’s Kindle reader in this country that really heralded e-books as a serious rival to the traditional printed format. Other rival electronic readers appeared but Amazon’s dominance in the book buying marketplace ensured that the Kindle was the popular choice. And Kindle owners were often the best ambassadors for the emerging e-book market.

I had been reluctant at first to get involved in e-books, in the belief that a non-fiction publisher like us would have little to gain from what appeared to be a predominantly fiction market. Ironically, it was Orphans Press of Leominster, the print firm that produces most of the printed books published by the Polperro Heritage Press, that persuaded me to embrace the new technology. It was a steep learning curve for both of us; converting the print files for the two e-book formats was not as straightforward as we had imagined and proved time-consuming at first. And then there was the matter of how to ensure that the files reached the e-book retailers.

That last issue was quickly resolved by the Faber Factory, a joint venture between Faber & Faber and the Perseus Books Group in the USA, catering specially for independent publishers. The process is simple. We deliver a pdf version of the print files to Faber Factory, they convert them to the required e-book formats and launch them onto the market. Our first e-book, Cribs For Victory was launched this time last year but I soon discovered that the e-book market was developing rapidly and promised all kinds of possibilities.

This year we have launched a further six e-book titles, four of which came from our back list.

Sales of them are steadily increasing, with 70% going to UK customers and a further 20% to North America and others to Australia and New Zealand. And if any of the islanders on Tristan da Cunha has a Kindle, they will be able to download a copy of Rockhopper Copper by the island’s chief policeman, Conrad Glass.

The latest e-books come with full colour if you have the right reader (I’ve just bought the new Kindle Fire which comes with wi-fi connection and other applications); many now come with audio and video enhancements as well as a variety of apps.  So while the future for e-books looks bright, the future for p-books (physical books) at least looks assured.