The following excerpts from a Feb. 11 press release from a startup publishing company called Smashwords underscores an emerging trend that is bound to accelerate as tools like the Kindle begin to penetrate the market.
“Smashwords allows anyone to become a published ebook author in minutes. The site is ideal for full length novels, short fiction, essays, poetry, personal memoirs, non-fiction and screenplays. Authors receive 85% the net sales proceeds from their works, and retain full control over sampling, pricing and marketing. Smashwords automatically converts the book into multiple DRM-free ebook formats (.txt., .rtf, .mobi, .epub, .pdf), making the book available for download or online reading. The latest generation of ebook reading devices, such as the Amazon Kindle, the IREX Iliad and the Sony Reader, for example, deliver a satisfying reading experience for most people.”
I added the bold font on the last sentence to emphasize the breakthrough implication of their business. This capability has significant repercussions for publishing, particularly in the educational field. As more and more books become “open source” and freely available, the barriers to universal literacy will begin to crumble.