E-Publishing: A Quick Trip Through Its Past, Present, and Probable Future

January 2004
by Moira Anderson Allen

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In 1999, the e-publishing community (including e-publishers, e-published authors, and e-book fans) was filled with optimism. Authors were told that e-publishing was the wave of the future. Some pundits predicted that, as early as 2003, e-books would outsell print books, and many boasted that e-books heralded the demise of print books altogether. Naysayers were resoundingly booed and generally considered obstructionists to the bright new electronic future.

By 2000 and early 2001, a writer could choose from more than 100 electronic publishers. Larger companies like MightyWords, a.k.a. FatBrain, a.k.a. eMatter, offered thousands of electronic titles, ranging from ponderous treatises to slim pamphlets. In 2000, Stephen King added fuel to the fire with his own e-book, Riding the Bullet, which sold nearly half a million copies within the first week (while hundreds of thousands of copies were given away free). Perhaps inspired by King’s success, a number of commercial print publishers, including Random House and Simon & Schuster, launched heavily funded e-publishing divisions. At the same time, companies like iUniverse and Xlibris began massive campaigns to woo authors to subsidy print-on-demand programs.

But Stephen King’s next e-project, a serialized novel titled The Plant, was canceled in mid-book due to lack of sales, much to the dismay of those who wanted to find out how it ended. In 2001 and 2002, many of the major publishers shu…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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