Tuesday, 22 February 2011



Read an E-Book weekBeWrite Books has enthusiastically participated in Read an Ebook Week (RAEBW) since the new green-letter day appeared on the calendar in 2004. Last year, we gave away hundreds of ebooks during the annual celebration of the ebook revolution.

It did us and our enthusiastic and generous authors no harm. Until mid-2010 paperback accounted for about ninety percent of BeWrite Books sales and ebooks around ten percent, but there has been a complete swing. 

All signs are that in 2011 ninety percent of BeWrite Books titles will now sell as ebooks with paperbacks accounting for ten percent. And even our paperback sales are on the up-and-up.

That sends a clear message; people are not only changing their reading habits – they're reading MORE than ever. That's good news.

Amazon – the biggest book seller in history – now reports ebooks outselling hardback and paperback combined of even brand new blockbusters. Brick-and-mortar bookstores that stubbornly resisted the new technology rather than embracing it and adapting are closing in droves. Major chains announce bankruptcy, job lay-offs and shut-downs with dismaying regularity.

The crying shame is not that they're closing (sad as that is to those who love to browse physical shelves [I'm one of you]), so much as that they had every chance and every resource to avoid this disaster, meet the challenge and keep the customer satisfied, but didn't bother.  Major publishers are desperately trying to catch up at the last minute – many struggling to keep afloat by cutting editorial staff to the bone. Major houses are going belly-up.

Ebooks have entered the mainstream – forty years after the very first prototype was released. (Read the history here.) You'll also learn there that the admirable Project Gutenberg whose volunteers produce ebooks of classics and Public Doman works – gave away ONE MILLION free ebooks in a single 140-hour period!

They laughed at Marconi, but they laughed even louder at me with the launch of BeWrite Books and my wildly enthusiastic predictions of the rise of ebooks with, perhaps, tedious regularity over the past decade. I resisted an 'I told you so', but I couldn't smother a chuckle when one of my crystal ball-gazing moments prompted me five years ago to outrageously predict an ebook-dedicated reading device hanging bubble-wrapped for £50 at the Tesco supermarket checkout by the end of 2011.

OK, I admit I got the supermarket wrong. The fifty quid device is now on sale at ASDA. Tesco is peddling cut-price Kindles at an only slightly higher price. My other predictions were notably more accurate.

But we've been preaching to the choir for the past nine years. Our effort this year ain't about pushing BeWrite Books' superbly in house-produced ebooks to established ebook lovers (lovingly prepared by tech and design partner, the wizard Tony Szmuk)... it's about promoting the very ebook concept itself. It's about introducing more and more folks to the sheer joy (and economy) of e-reading.

It's about sending a message to those who are still in love with paper, at the expense of four BILLION trees a year . Books should be read in the shade of a tree, not sitting on its dead stump. (click on the sub-head above ro read more)

A staggering eighty MILLION trees are scheduled for the axe during Read an Ebook Week alone. Let's try to save some – at least those millions hacked down and pulped purely to produce paperback books (fifty percent of which are returned to publishers, unsold by brick & mortar bookshops in your local high street, to be destroyed).

And it's about promoting our pet campaign ... the freedom of the ebook from unwarranted and bloody annoying Digital Rights Management (DRM) padlocks that restrict its use and the ability to share ebooks we believe you own and do not merely licence with strings attached.

DRM doesn't deter pirates as some publishers glibly claim. Most pirate ebooks are produced by simply scanning the pages of new blockbuster hardbacks and paperbacks – and no self respecting pirate would dare fly his Jolly Roger if he couldn't strip DRM in moments ... heck, instructions are all over the internet. DRM is there to force honest buyers into multiple buys of a single title. It's a huge joke to the dishonest and a downright insult to the honest.

And our wee part in the ebook campaign is also about encouraging a new generation, wired to sound and video and computer games, to discover the value of the WRITTEN word. They don't need fancy new devices. They can read on their ubiquitous smartphones and iPods until Mom  and Dad buy them a Sony, a Kobo, a Kindle, a Nook or whatever for their birthday (and for their study and course work, let's remember).

A book, we must never forget, is its content and not its means of presentation. Books have thrived since stone-carved symbols, clay tablets, hieroglyphics, scrolls and hand-copied codex went out of fashion.

Books became available to everyone after Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg knocked up the first crude hand-cranked printing engine from an old wine press in his cellar. In the six centuries since Gutenberg's DIY brainwave, we have seen only fancy refinements of his prototype that brought reading to countless millions around the world and is responsible for the greatest rate of literacy in the history of the human race.

Now comes the ebook and the handy, ebook reading device that lets you carry an entire library in your pocket, store tens of thousands of books in your PC or laptop using free library software like the excellent Calibre that will catalogue your collection and even convert from one digital format to another in seconds. (Click the link for a free download of the best library software in the world.)

And, yes, you can read an ebook in the bath. With an inexpensive leather cover, it even smells and feels just as wonderful as those swanky volumes the local lending library won't let you take home to read.

The possibilities of ebook reading are as endless as the potential of literature, art and education itself.

So here's the deal: ANYONE, ANYWHERE who buys an ebook OR a printed 'treebook' from ANY PUBLISHER from ANY online OR brick-and-mortar store from March 6 – March 12 (Read an Ebook Week) can provide some simple form of proof of sale to a special new BeWrite Books email address RAEBW@bewrite.net ... and claim any two BeWrite Books ebook titles from our catalogue in the format of their choice FREE OF CHARGE. This temporary address will be live from March 5 to March 13 to take into account international time zones.

Those who actually buy an ebook or paperback direct from BeWrite Books bookstore itself during that period get the same deal ... but with a surprise bonus or two.

Fair enough?

We and our authors think so because we all stand to benefit from the general and global explosion in ebook popularity, just as you do,  and – as well as seeking the widest possible exposure of our exclusive works by some of the finest writers on the planet – we want to help the ebook-reading culture grow and grow and grow ... like trees are meant to.

Top of the food chain is the reader. As his/her feeding habits change, we aim to keep up with his/her appetite. 

This wee gesture is just a statement of intent to encourage e-reading and to help in a tiny way our beautiful, fragile planet. No matter how much you think you love the look and feel of that paperback or hardback, any lover of art must surely appreciate that leaves belong on trees.

And a wee PS to those who still choose BeWrite Books in paperback: We won't hold it against you. Even our paperbacks' covers and pages are produced on special 'woodless' paper. So no trees are sacrificed in the production of a BB book – paperback or ebook (though we confess that a few electrons might be mildly inconvenienced). We might be green at BB, but we're not cabbage-looking.
Happy Read an Ebook Week, folks. Tony Szmuk, Neil Marr, Hugh McCracken, Sam Smith, and the rest of the team and authors at BeWrite Books.

AND WE COMMEND TO YOU OUR LIVE AND PERMANENT LINKS HERE ON THE BLOG AND IN OUR BOOKSTORE'S FRONT PAGE TO THE ADMIRABLE CALIBRE, MOBILEREAD AND RAEBW WEBSITES. Please take some time to check them out. Assuredly computer-safe,  assurely non-space-grabbing, assuredly free, assuredly the best ... and assurably not to be missed!


  1. Thrilled that RAEBW has chosen BeWrite Books as an official partner publisher for 2011's international Read an Ebook Week.

    Also, Calibre Library is due to go live with a Recommended List of ebook publishers who resist unfair DRM padlocks. BeWrite Books and its titles are to be featured in flatteringly high profile.

    Seems we must be doing something right, folks, eh?

    Cheers. Neil:

  2. Still resisting an 'I told you so'. There's an even cheaper e-ink ebook-dedicated reading device in the UK today ... for under £30 (that's less than fifty bucks, folks!). Cheers. Neil

    Read abour it here: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/cheapest-ereader-now-on-sale-in-the-uk_b6545?c=rss

  3. Calbre's new 'Open Books' list of DRM-resisting publishers is now live. Just click on the Calibre link here at the BB blog and on the front page of the bookshop section og the BB website to access it. Bestests. Neil

  4. Very interesting points. Thanks for this.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)