There is much debate on whether the printed book will survive the onslaught of its electronic counterpart. With newer devices being produced almost everyday that make e-books easy to access, it seems like e-books are here to stay. While many publishers are apprehensive of the impact of e-books on their business models, it will be, nonetheless, interesting to see how things pan out here in India.

Even today, many Indian villages remain inaccessible because of the poor quality of roads and last mile delivery of goods remains a huge challenge. Primarily because of this, and because literacy levels associated with the rural hinterland are considered abysmal, books hardly make it to the villages in the numbers that it should. This means that those who actually want a good book to read cannot get one. The Government has made a feeble attempt to introduce libraries but barring that and a few mobile libraries that are introduced by well-meaning individuals, finding a good book to read is long shot off.

It is in this context that the impact of e-books must be examined. Mobile connections cover almost half of the country’s population and a huge perecentage of the rural populace. The average screen size of the mobile has also increased. That means books, if transmitted electronically, can be easily downloaded and conveniently read. In order to cater to the needs of the vernacular market, innovations will be important. Important strides are already being taken in this direction although more work is needed.

At an important time such as this, the correct steps must be taken. It is important to realise that this need not be a zero-sum game and that e-books and printed books can co-exist. In fact it has been proposed that e-books might actually prop up the demand for the printed versions. Careful thought must be therefore applied before publishers yield to the temptation of enforcing DRM rights and other such controls on the sale and dissemination of e-books.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you think the e-book wave will play itself out in India? Or is it too early to speculate? Are e-books going to change the way publishing is perceived and books delivered? Your comments are invited.

It was already about e-books. From the Kindle to the Nook to the very unimaginatively named Sony Reader, e-book Readers were fast to come by and offer those on the move a new way to read books. e-book Readers offered a truckload of choices – from the ability to carry more than a 1000 books at once to the ability to make annotations and notes on the book as you read it.

The iPad has raised the stakes even further. It was always possible to read e-books on smartphones thanks to the likes of the Stanza app on iphones and Aldiko on Google Android phones. With everyone who is someone preferring an electronic version of the book to read, having an e-presence has now become a necessity.

Making your book available in an electronic form also has an economic aspect to it. With more than half of the world’s readers of English books concentrated in North America and Western Europe, it makes sense to cater to these readers, who now increasingly prefer the convenience of e-books. There is also the cost factor. With e-book development being a one-time charge, every additional “e-book” costs nothing to produce. You are earning from each sale and spending nothing.

At CinnamonTeal, we are doing our best to help our authors leverage this channel. We have tied up with and Smashwords™, both respected book channels in their own right. Our association with them allows our authors access to a large number of platforms thus making their books accessible on most devices whether on mobiles or on dedicated e-book readers. To know more about this service, click here.We also offer an e-book development service for a variety of formats.

We have been often asked why we do not offer packages like many other POD publishers do. It has been common practice about POD providers to offer publishing packages that bundle together services for an all-inclusive fee. At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we have consciously chosen to stay away from packages. There are reasons for this:

a. Many of the packages available on offer bundle services that might not be needed by the author. But because no alternative is available, the service has to be bought, and paid for, as part of the package. For example, in package-based offerings, a person may have to pay for cover design even if she could have done it herself

b. Some services ought to be there for free. Like the non-exclusive contract which many publishers offer as part of their basic package but which, we believe, is central to the concept of POD publishing and must be offered without any strings attached. Similarly, in India, ISBN must be issued without any charge.

c. The concept of packages flies in the face of the spirit of POD i.e. helping authors get around budgetary constraints in the process of publishing their book. At CinnamonTeal, we first encourage authors to check and see if their friends or acquaintances can provide services like cover design or editing for free or for a reduced rate.

d. Many times, authors who have bought package-based services are left out of the loop when those services are provided. Consultation is not provided for as part of these services. Hence, during crucial stages like the editing of the book, the author is not allowed to weigh in on the edited draft. Inputs are incorporated but charged as another round of editing.

e. Most of the packages offer marketing services that promise the moon but require the author to be an inherent part of the process. Nothing wrong with that except that the author is led to believe that she can stay out of the process and the marketing package she has paid for will generate sales on its own.

f. Quality isn’t assured. This follows from an earlier point made which illustrates the dangers of leaving the author out of the process. If the author is not allowed to provide her inputs to the edited manuscript, for instance, various nuances of the plot may be altered and the narrative may be lost in translation

CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services provides editorial, design and POD services to customers around the globe. It provides services a la carte – you pay only what you ask for.