Saturday, March 24, 2012

E-books: Home of the Next Big Thing?

Consider the following:

E-book phenomenon Amanda Hocking's Tylle series was optioned for film a little over a year ago and continues to sell well in multiple formats.

Thriller writer Barry Eisler walked away from a $500,000 offer from St. Martin's Press to self-publish The Detachment electronically and later in print through Amazon's Thomas and Mercer imprint.

Novelist J.A. Konrath reportedly sells some 2,000 e-books a day. That's every day. Whether he sleeps in or not.

Now consider:

The Hunger Games, published by Scholastic and later optioned for film, was released in theaters this weekend. If social media is any indicator, it's opening in a major way. Over 2,000,000 copies of books within the trilogy have sold and the movie is doubtless going boost sales further.

Comic books, from Spiderman and Superman to reported revivals of The Shadow, have come roaring back in popularity, primarily in print form.

No story born in an e-book has ever been a nominee for the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award. Yet.

Every Hollywood studio, every talent agent, every fan of literature and film is on the lookout for the Next Big Thing. In the past century, the Next Big Thing has always come through traditional channels: print, theatre, and film. So it's easy to believe that the next Next Big Thing will also come from print, theatre, or film.

But just as YouTube has changed the game for sharing videos, so have e-books changed the game for sharing the written word. The three examples I gave at the top of this post illustrate a mere handful of the successes independent authors have had over the past two years. While future success is never assured, I'd say it's highly likely there are many more such stories to come.

We are witnessing an artistic form in its infancy. But like so many infants, this one will grow up fast. Someday, someday soon, an e-book author's face will flash across the screen during an Academy Awards show with the title of his or her adapted e-book-cum-film on prominent display. That book may even now be available on Amazon or Smashwords.

Even now, the Next Big Thing may already be here.