Yarmouth publisher Islandport Press expands to e-books

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YARMOUTH — You can read the latest release from Islandport Press without even turning a page.

Instead, you can turn on a Kindle, iPad, or Nook – devices used to read books electronically.

“Abbott’s Reach,” a historical novel written by Bangor native Ardeana Hamlin, is Islandport’s first widespread e-book release. The company will continue to offer its books in traditional print format; “Abbott’s Reach” was released in print last month, and the electronic version came out May 13.

But five of Islandport’s 10 new releases this year will be e-books.

Publisher and founder Dean Lunt said the company remains committed to the printed book, but that “given the rapidly developing e-book technology and changing reading habits, all publishers, even small and regional presses, must begin developing and implementing an e-book strategy if they hope to survive.”

“You’ve got to go where the readers are,” he said.

Lunt said he thinks fiction books are a good place to start with e-books. His company plans to make almost all its new adult trade paperback offerings available as e-books, and will start releasing certain back-list books in electronic format later this year or next year.

“The Road to Down Street: The Story of North Bath,” a recent release written by the late Nancy Dearborne Loveterre, might at some point be released as an e-book, Lunt said.

“We believe the e-book is still developing and changing, so we will remain very flexible and somewhat conservative in our approach to the format,” he said. “But there is no question that e-books are here to stay in a big way and we need to be in that market.”

Islandport, which published its first book in 2000, is still working on plans to release its children’s book offerings electronically. The company does not plan to release any picture books in that format before 2012 or 2013.

Melissa Kim, senior editor of children’s books, said Islandport wants to handle those books the right way.

“We are working with extremely talented illustrators and authors and are committed to showcasing their work in the highest quality and best possible format, in a way that promotes reading and childhood literacy,” she said.

The company will release one young adult publication, “Mercy: The Last New England Vampire,” this fall as an e-book.

Lunt noted that “the outlets for (titles) like fiction are getting tougher for all presses, because as bookstores struggle, there are less options to get it out there.”

Cutting out the printing and transportation of the physical book reduces costs, but development of the book – the authoring, editing and designing – remains an expense, Lunt said.

“My hope is that we can do the printed book, and have good sales on the printed book, and … supplement with the e-book,” he said.

Lunt said one struggle with e-books are their low prices.

“I don’t think this industry can survive the price points that some of these guys are pushing for e-books,” he said. With prices as low as $5.99, “where’s the author getting the money, where’s the overhead coming from? … What will happen to quality, what will happen to the designers, the writers, down the road?”

Lunt said prices are dictated by “the powers that be” – e-book sellers like Amazon and Apple. With “Abbott’s Reach,” the print version is $16.95 and the e-book is under $10.

He said he hopes that within the next few months Islandport Press will be able to offer e-books through its own website, as opposed to just using companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Sidebar Elements

Dean Lunt, founder and publisher of Islandport Press in Yarmouth, is leading his company through its expansion to electronic books.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.