Christina Vasilevski

Toronto Writer/Editor for Content Strategy, Content Design & UX.

An eBook-shaped hole in my education

In a recent blog post I talked about my writing and editing goals for 2012. However, I forgot to add one very important goal to the list: I need to learn more about eBooks.

The course I took on electronic publishing in 2010 didn’t help me. In fact, it was downright misleading. It contained absolutely no mention of eBooks or eReaders at all. This is rather odd, all things considered – shouldn’t students entering the fast-changing world of publishing be given at least a rudimentary understanding of eBook formatting, eReaders, digital rights management for eBooks, or eBook piracy? This information is becoming increasingly relevant to both self-published authors and publishing houses. Ryerson will have a course in the summer of 2012 called “Publishing in Transition” which I hope will bridge the gaps in my knowledge, but that’s still a way off, and I want to start paving over the holes in my education right now.

So, here is a very basic sketch of how I plan to do that:

  • Bookmark websites and blogs that discuss ebook production, distribution, and marketing, and follow their content.
  • Buy lots of eBooks. (If there’s one thing that’s wonderful, it’s rationalizing entertainment consumption as a form of professional development!)
  • Understand how eBooks work in action and get a grasp of what formatting issues are unique to them. (I just bought a Kobo, but that’s fodder for another post.)
  • Learn about other facets of the self-publishing industry, like price points, royalties, and budgeting

The plan sounds simple in theory, but the amount of information about self-publishing and ePublishing  is increasing so quickly that it’s easy for anyone, especially a newcomer like me, to get overwhelmed. Here are some sites I’ve found useful so far:

Oddly enough, a number of the blogs I’ve been following have talked about the importance of good cover design for eBooks. Synchronicity or not, the news is welcome.

Thoughts for the New Year

While I certainly plan on posting here again before January starts, I realize that with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I may not have the time. To keep myself on track for the future, here are my freelancing goals for the new year:

  • To continue with my courses at Ryerson so that I will be on track to finish the Publishing Certificate by the spring of 2011.
  • To attend the EAC’s annual conference in May. I have a fair idea of how much it will cost to attend, but variables such as accommodations, transit, and food are still to be determined. Please give me your recommendations for restaurants and hostels in Montreal, if you can!
  • To purchase the following things necessary for freelancing work: an external hard drive for backups, a PO box for correspondence, and (possibly) new software for accounting and design/proofreading.
  • To provide editing services to agencies that are involved in social justice or the environment

That feels comprehensive enough, but still feasible within one year. And oh yes, I do plan on making updates at least once or twice a week describing my progress or interesting grammar issues.

eReader Essay Done

So, I handed in my essay on new media in higher educational publishing today. Looking over it, I feel I’ll have to substantially rework it to make it blog-ready. For one thing, it sounds too much like the sort of essay any competent university student could write on autopilot. For another, I didn’t really come out with an opinion about eReaders in the end – I assessed the pros and cons, but ended by stating nothing more than that eReaders are a potentially huge sea change in publishing, and that it’ll take a while for things to sort out.

While it’s the truth, it felt wishy-washy.  So here’s my bold prediction:

If publishers don’t act fast, they’re going to get screwed.  They’re going to get screwed because eReaders are going to be popular, and if they get popular enough, people will find a way to get around whatever DRM measures publishers put in place – remember the old trick of running a marker around the edge of a CD to make it burnable? People are innovative, and they are cheap. The majority of books published in Canada don’t make money as it is – how will the Canadian industry suffer once books inevitably make their way onto P2P networks even more than they already have? It’ll cause publishers to rely even more on a tiny elite cadre of moneymakers to shore up their losses, concentrating the industry and leaving new talent out in the cold.

I say this as someone who has only a few qualms about downloading torrents – I’ve gotten lots of albums for free, and even movies, miniseries and TV shows. I have no doubt that if I get a digital reader, it’ll be more than easy to find content to fill it without spending a red cent.