Some of my early works are now available via Amazon Kindle and I've been amazed at how straightforward and instant the publishing process is using this channel.
I remember in 2000 a company called ePublish Ltd. based in Ireland published my novel 'The Republican: An Irish Civil War Story' in eBook format. It tanked, mainly due to the fact that people didn't want to read books whilst sitting in front of their computer screens. In fact the entire eBook publishing industry tanked for several years until the Nook, Kindle and now the Sony eBook reader emerged. And then of course you have the iPad and iPhone and Blackberry, which can also double as eBook readers, once you have the right 'App' installed.
eBooks continue to rewrite the rules of the publishing game on a daily basis, with companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon claiming huge increases in the number of eBooks sold in recent months and predicting that they will surpass traditional printed tomes in the very near future.
So what effect does this have on the written word? Well, what effect does a Blog like this have, or a private Web site? It's all much of a muchness. Natural selection and effective marketing campaigns will, as ever, separate the wheat from the chaff. Time, effort & capital investment = reward and notoriety. What will have to change, however, is the business model used by publishing houses. Already we see legal wrangles between agents, publishers and booksellers.
Think of eBook publishing as the new Napster, the new Pirate Bay, of the publishing world. People see the money, smell the opportunity but the business hasn't quite found its feet yet. A lot will depend on the sale price of the next version of the Kindle and how fast tablet PCs take off I suppose... but one thing is for sure, things are changing very quickly indeed....