Interesting thoughts from Dominique Raccah, at Sourcebooks publishing, on what makes a successful eBook. In the current market, with the current technology, she says it’s mostly fiction, and some narrataive non-fiction:

What’s selling in ebooks? It’s primarily narrative … Stories seem to be at the heart of eBooks right now. Even the successful non-fiction eBooks we’re seeing skew to narrative – memoirs and biography and history. They’re all stories – and they’re all linear reading experiences. [more]

And, from Raccah’s experience at Sourcebooks, what doesn’t work in eBooks is Reference and Childrens’ books, which are notably non-linear reading experiences:

Reference is the biggest category of non-fiction and our experience at Sourcebooks is that reference is … the hardest category to get right in eBooks. At Sourcebooks, reference is highly formatted: lots of subsections, sidebars, pictures, diagrams, pull-quotes, etc. It’s highly “browseable,” “dippable,” not necessarily a linear reading experience. All the things that we put in to make the book more experiential as a printed book are the very things that are harder to replicate as an experience in an eBook. And there are so many different kinds of reference books.

The other difficult transformation area right now is children’s books (as distinct from young adult books). E-tailers’ bestsellers lists, publisher-reported data, and our own data are not suggesting strong conversion to eBooks yet for juvenile books, outside of cross-over YA. [more]

Raccah’s comments echo the ideas of Jakob Nielsen and Paul Biba, who also decry the domination of eBooks by the linear book metaphor. They note particularly the poor fit of the linear book model for cookbooks, travel guides, and encyclopedias.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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