I attended the Jozi Book Fair this past weekend (http://www.jozibookfair.org.za/)
The book fair took place in Doorfontein Johannesburg and was the brainchild of Dr. Maria van Driel, a person with long history of advancing the struggle for literacy in South Africa.
I must say I was absolutely blown away by the people I met at the event, ranging from small publishers to authors who wanted to publish for the first time and even a the deputy minister of small business, Elizabeth Thabethe!
I found that the publishing houses were very interested in Digital Publishing message I was sharing and wanted to know how eBooks could lift their established print business.
Authors at the event were fascinated by the technology and appeared very interested in using eBooks as a medium to share their message.
As always the barrier for many of these first time authors was firstly money, obviously creating eBooks rather than printed copies would be a great way to save money!
I also found that a lack of understanding of technology and it's benefits (to authors) was notable although most authors I spoke to did at least own a computer.
This means that the free learning resources for these emerging authors, covering Digital Publishing topics is a must have! See a previous blog post here with some great free content for authors and publishers;
I did come across some misunderstandings around Amazon and how best to help authors gain exposure through this online giant.
I think one of the first lessons to be learned revolves around pricing your eBook through Amazon.
A common perception I encountered in this regard goes something like this;
"I must charge a higher price for the eBook otherwise I will be perceived as cheap"
This perception leads authors and publishers alike to charge prices that are similar in most cases to their hard copy version.
The first problem here is that when the eBook price exceeds $9.99 your Amazon royalty immediately gets cut from 70% to 35% - not great.
Secondly this will lead to sluggish sales unless there has been a serious marketing drive online, most authors would not be able to sufficiently market their work enough to be able to charge more.
Therefore a cheaper price will entice customers, although this should also be accompanied by a great cover and marketing description!
Whilst I understand that some publishing houses have priced eBooks at a higher list price do have overheads to cover.
This needs to be balanced however with the honest truth that an expensive eBook will deter customers if they are on the fence, which is often the case if they are looking at a first-time author.
Authors in our country are fast learning that they can publish their work online and into international portals such as Amazon without the help of a middleman.
It is essential that publishers embrace a paradigm of lower pricing to ensure that eBooks released by our authors are properly received by the international author community.
The risk otherwise is that they will forever be consigned to a virtual bookshelf, gathering the digital equivalent of dust as customers opt for cheaper releases.
Here is a picture of my stall at the event.
With the Deputy Minister of Small Business - Elizabeth Thabethe.