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Old 01-09-2008, 04:59 PM   #1
eBookNerd
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Publishers Weekly Article: Trends to Watch in 2008

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The popularity of e-books will increase, with titles formatted for Amazon's Kindle leading the way. Content for the Sony Reader will sell faster than ever, but by this time next year, Kindle-compatible books will be outselling them by more than 2 to 1. And Palm, which has historically been the bestselling format, will have had its best year-on-year increase as well. By year end, nearly every straight-text title published with commercial intent will be available for Kindle; the trick for the other formats will be to make sure they're included, too. And Kindle pricing will drive the market. But despite the fast growth, e-books will still make up a tiny share of the market--no more than 2% of sales for most titles--and will contribute only a minimal amount to publishers' bottom lines.
http://www.publishersweekly.com/arti....html?nid=3335

Do you think he's correct in predicting that even though Kindle will energize the ebook market.... but -"despite the fast growth, e-books will still make up a tiny share of the market--no more than 2% of sales for most titles--and will contribute only a minimal amount to publishers' bottom lines."

Frankly, I was hoping to see ebooks take off and represent a much larger share of the publishing market!
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Old 01-09-2008, 05:31 PM   #2
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Heh. In order to have more than 2% of their sales in e-books, publishers would have to have more than 2% of their offerings available as e-books.

I think he's pretty safe in that prediction. Given the givens.
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Old 01-09-2008, 06:36 PM   #3
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People are going to purchase ebooks for convenience more than durability and extended use. I think the attitude towards ebooks is going to be more along the lines of "expendable" rather than something they'll keep for the rest of their lives. People still like paper books. As much as I love my ebook collection, I love paper books even more. The problem, of course, is transporting them. I like fitting a massive number of books on a small device like a palm pilot or the Sony Reader. So far these devices do a poor job of replicating paper books in the "reference" area, though. Searching through ebooks on a computer is pretty fast and simple. Searching through them on portable devices is, I have found, slow and more annoying than helpful. I also enjoy the smell of paper books and the feel of the pages between my fingers. This has nothing to do with content, of course, but book stores are like heaven to me. I can spend hours upon hours in a book store and later wonder where the time went. Realistically, the ease of use that comes with a paper book simply can't be replicated with an ebook. Ebooks will come closer and get better with time, I just have a hard time imagining anyone in the future claiming to have a personal library that is only on his computer. It just isn't the same.
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Old 01-09-2008, 06:58 PM   #4
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Part of the problem is that the best seller lists like the New York Times Best Seller list do not take ebooks into account and it should have the top 10 for just ebooks (IMHO).
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eBookNerd View Post
http://www.publishersweekly.com/arti....html?nid=3335

Do you think he's correct in predicting that even though Kindle will energize the ebook market.... but -"despite the fast growth, e-books will still make up a tiny share of the market--no more than 2% of sales for most titles--and will contribute only a minimal amount to publishers' bottom lines."

Frankly, I was hoping to see ebooks take off and represent a much larger share of the publishing market!
I think he's quite right. Before ebook sales can take off and become a much larger share of the market, a much larger part of the market must be able to read them.

How do people read ebooks? While most folks who buy paper books have a desktop or laptop PC, I doubt they read ebooks on them. People read ebooks on handheld devices, and must have a handheld device that can do it.

Ebook readers are a tiny niche market at present. There just aren't that many of them out there. And while there are a lot of handheld devices that could be used to read ebooks, like smartphones, more folks who own them have to see that as a use for their device.

Personally, I hope another of his predictions come true: that anything published in paper will see a corresponding ebook edition.
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Part of the problem is that the best seller lists like the New York Times Best Seller list do not take ebooks into account and it should have the top 10 for just ebooks (IMHO).
Before the NYT can take ebook sales into account, it must have verifiable sales data. Given the variety of channels over which ebooks are sold, collecting it could be a challenge.
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Old 01-09-2008, 09:45 PM   #7
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I agree with Shatzkin's 2 percent figure, give or take a point. That's mainly because, though the Kindle will get more people to notice e-books, its $400 price tag will keep most people from trying it. There may even be a backlash and drop, if we see people who don't know from one format or another buying the cheaper Sony reader, and only then discovering that it cannot access Amazon's books!... or if they discover that Amazon doesn't have the books available that they want for their new Kindle.

I think that figure could rise significantly, however, if Amazon either cut Kindle's cost in half or less, or if it sold its e-books in formats that could be read on devices other than the Kindle. Or both. Sony could also halve its reader cost, or redesign it to read Kindle formats, or both. Either would help.

Selling outside of the U.S. wouldn't hurt, either...

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 01-09-2008 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 01-09-2008, 11:25 PM   #8
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yes I do believe he's correct, as much as we're ebook and book fans here, the average man on the street is lucky he even reads anymore , never mind dropping 3 to 4 bills on a device to read electronically. No if Amazon Subsidizes the Hardware and offers it free or cheap with some kind of Yearly Membership then maybe...
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Old 01-09-2008, 11:26 PM   #9
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Seems fairly likely

Another reason that paper books will continue outsell ebooks is that many paper books are vanity purchases, or gifts. Neither of these is likely to transition to ebooks soon.

Too many people buy the latest political memoir, only to leave it sitting on their shelves unread. This drives a huge sector of the publishing industry, and I don't see how ebooks can serve this sector.

And there's just not nearly as much satisfaction in giving someone an electronic book (and not many sellers even make it easy). fictionwise allows you to buy a specific title for someone, but it's not quite the same as giving a nice wrapped up hardback.
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiderMatt View Post
People still like paper books. As much as I love my ebook collection, I love paper books even more.
We can try to pinpoint various reasons to explain the slow start ebooks are experiencing, like copyright issues and drm, but the real reason is precisely this: at equal price, WE PREFER PAPER. The key to seeing the ebook market take off is to lower the price of electronic editions versus paper books, and to offer cheaper ebook readers too, obviously. Even then, paper books will always be more popular, at least until the tricorder is invented!
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Old 01-10-2008, 09:50 AM   #11
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Now that I have an eInk reader with a decent size screen, I would love to read everything on it and get rid of all my books. Paper books are heavy, take up too much room, and use trees. Plus I hate the musty smell that books acquire after years in a humid environment. I haven't walked into a physical bookstore in years and when I buy paper books I always buy online.

About the only preference for physical books I have is for reference type books. *But* I haven't seen many technical books for eInk readers so I haven't tried one out on it. Trying to learn a new skill or acquire knowledge from reading a book on a Palm is too difficult for me. I have shelves full of needle art books that I'll have a hard time replacing with an electronic version unless I do it myself.
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:05 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarpad View Post
yes I do believe he's correct, as much as we're ebook and book fans here, the average man on the street is lucky he even reads anymore , never mind dropping 3 to 4 bills on a device to read electronically. No if Amazon Subsidizes the Hardware and offers it free or cheap with some kind of Yearly Membership then maybe...
True, book reading isn't exactly soaring, but sales of magazines and other periodicals are growing steadily. I maintain that the "killer app" for e-books will probably be summed up by 2 words: "color magazines." The first company to create a color reader and subscriptions to online versions of popular magazines, they won't be able to make enough of 'em.
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:46 AM   #13
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I think he's about right. Don't know about the exact number but definitely low penetration.

Since getting my Sony reader I am turning into an E-vangelist, trying to spread the word wherever I travel. But I'm preaching to the masses who just have no clue these things exist. Yes, they live among us...
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Old 01-10-2008, 12:08 PM   #14
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A lot of responses to this depend on the perspective of the responder, and what they hope ebooks can achieve.

The most disappointed folks seem to hope that ebooks will take over, and paper books will go away. I don't see that happening, and wouldn't want it to.

For me, ebooks are an additional format to paper, and not a replacement. Each format has strengths and weaknesses.

I like ebooks because I can carry a library in my pocket and always have a book to read, and because content in electronic format is searchable, which is handy for reference material and technical manuals.

But there are some things that ebooks don't do well. Consider art books. You need color and high resolution, and you need a large display area to properly present the art. You don't have that in current dedicated readers, since eInk devices aren't currently available in color, and you'll never have the display space on a handheld device.

And while I'm as green as the next person, I do have to point out that trees are a renewable resource. If you want to save trees, your daily newspaper is a much better place to start.
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Old 01-10-2008, 02:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
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And while I'm as green as the next person, I do have to point out that trees are a renewable resource. If you want to save trees, your daily newspaper is a much better place to start.
Trees might be renewable, but the expenditure in energy and use of toxic chemicals needed to produce, store, transport and deliver paper products, not to mention the lessening of trees' ability to capture and store carbon and purify the air when they are cut down, make paper a surprisingly non-green (brown?) technology.

You expend a lot of energy and resources to create one reader, but after that, you can read the equivalent of multiple thousands of paper pages, making e-book readers greener products than paper.

This is why I think e-books may not completely replace paper books, but they will most likely replace most paperback books, which have generally been considered by the industry as the "poor man's disposable" book. Better to have collectible hardbacks, and e-books as the disposable format, saving on a lot of paper production.
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