In August the BBC aired this short video clip on the way the rise of digital books is revolutionising the global publishing industry.
Watch the video clip and answer the questions below about it. It's not a fast video, but the questions are open-ended and some a bit lengthy, so you may need to stop the video player to have time to write down the answers.
The activity is suitable for intermediate students.
1 What does "20%" refer to?
2 What is the key question about the book market?
3 What kind of music does Roger Hurn write?
4 What common prejudice about the digital publishing revolution does Roger Hurn mention?
5 What are the three necessary ingredients for success, according to Roger?
6 What three activities is Joanna Penn involved in?
7 What professionals do writers need to hire to attract customers?
You can self-correct the activity by reading the transcript.
There is a romanticism to writing a hit novel and becoming the next Ian Fleming. With the rise of digital publishing, anyone can have a shot. As a result, there’s been an explosion in the number of authors. In 2011in the UK e-books made up just 5.8% of the market. A year later that was up to 14.3%, and this year the market could break 20%. But with the book market so fundamentally in turmoil at the moment the key question has to be ‘are any of the new authors actually making money out of digital books?’
Meet Roger Hurn. His first hard-boiled detective novel topped Amazon’s novella chart. He’s also written music that links up with some of his books, so he’s an internet one-man brand.
I think the digital publishing revolution is a great thing, though I do worry that everybody thinks if they self-publish a book they’re gonna to become multi-millionnaire overnight. That’s just not the way it works. You gotta have a quality idea. It’s got to be a great book and you really do need someone out there to market it and push it for you.
Another author who is a one-woman brand is Joanna Penn. She runs a successful blog, lectures in digital marketing and uses those to help drive sales for her series of religious thrillers.
There isn’t a single model for anyone to write one book and become an overnight success, but there are some, you know, some really good things that will help you, so for one when you self-publish it’s really important to kind of emulate the publishing industry, to get a professional editor, very important, and a professional cover designer. You want your book to basically be as attractive to customers as possible.
So unlike Ian Fleming, self-published authors won’t be celebrating their millions with martinis straightaway but their opportunities are growing. An interesting twist.
Philip Hampsheir, BBC News.