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Old 10-15-2007, 05:42 AM   #1
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Publishers need to push ebook reader adoption

Bookseller.com features an article about Wiley’s ideas about ebooks. Publishers need to push consumer adoption of ebook readers, says John Wiley chairman Peter Wiley and senior vice-president for Europe, Stephen Smith. Wiley believes that textbooks will become digital but he is not sure when. Stephen Smith says ebook readers are the key to success of digital textbooks. Wiley and other textbook publishers are likely to push ebook reading devices to students, Smith says. New ebook readers, such as the Amazon Kindle, will mean growth for textbooks but he also says we are in a ‘rocky transition period right now’.

Original article here.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:25 PM   #2
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I'm sorry, but the current eink devices are not yet ready for textbooks.
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Old 10-15-2007, 02:36 PM   #3
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I'm sorry, but the current eink devices are not yet ready for textbooks.
I think they're getting pretty darned close, though. I could see using the Iliad for that. It's not my dream study device but nearly so.
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Old 10-15-2007, 03:50 PM   #4
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Well, if you do need color, you are out of luck.
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Old 10-15-2007, 04:59 PM   #5
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I just sorted through a bunch of Wiley textbooks last weekend. Few graphics and no color (unless black is a color) in any of them.

The key to textbooks and portable devices is the ability to search, something lacking on the current Sony but present on the iLiad and (from the photos) perhaps on the Kindle.
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:13 PM   #6
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Well, if you do need color, you are out of luck.
True, but I wouldn't be surprised if you saw that in a few years. Besides, if you had the textbook in electronic form, you could always study any color diagrams on a regular computer but you'd still have your portable reader for when you're out and about.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:20 PM   #7
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Well if publishers sorted out the pricing issues with ebooks and pushed them properly, it would not need to be just text books.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:57 PM   #8
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Pushing eBook readers

I agree that publishers need to get with eBooks and eBook readers. I still run into a lot of readers (humans) who tell me they don't like reading on their PCs. Heck, I don't like reading on my PC.

In terms of pushing readers, I think we need to be agnostic. I like the eBookWise myself because it's affordable and I like the back lighting. But I also appreciate being able to read on a PDA since pulling something out of a pocket works for my lifestyle.

I push eBooks on unusual devices--on my website, I've got articles on putting eBooks on not-so-smart phones and on the Creative Zen. Whatever you have with you is what you should be able to read on. Except for textbooks, I think only a minority of readers can justify paying $300 to be able to read books. When you remember that the average American read something like six books last year, $300 works out to a lot per book.

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Old 10-15-2007, 07:20 PM   #9
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I guess I'm not the average reader. I've always read a lot. Before I was married, I used to go to bed and read a bit before going to sleep. I don't do that as much now that I am married unless I am not all that tired. I'm not one who can lay in bed and try to fall asleep when I know it isn't going to work. I do want eventually get a light to go with the 505 so I can stop using the ear light. I've been thinking of the bug light give that it makes a more even spread of light.

And one thing I've done a lot over the years is to carry a book around with me. That's part of the reason I loath the new MMPB books. They are just too tall and the price is too expensive. But if their excuse is correct and the print in some normal MMPB is too small, then pushing an ebook reader for the font size is a good idea.
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Old 10-15-2007, 09:57 PM   #10
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It would be interesting to see a breakdown in reading habits of the general public. I think that would help to see how to best market e-books. As things stand, the type of reader who is a collector, who likes to put their books on a shelf and look at them and take them down and pet them occasionally (oh, and re-read them, too, of course) will not be an e-book consumer. They like the object as much as the story.

The type of consumer who buys whatever is around in the airport or wherever they happen to have some downtime and think about reading, who then give the book away to someone else to make room in their carryon (I witnessed such an event on an airplane last week), will not be an e-book consumer. They would have to purchase an expensive reader and have it with them at all times. Bringing down the price of the reader might help, but it needs to be portable. If they can be wheedled into reading on their PDA or smartphone that they already have with them, and buy e-books easily at the airport or drugstore, or better yet download it over the air, then maybe.

The consumers I can see purchasing e-books in large numbers are those who read a lot of books, buy in quantity, and don't care to keep the books after they have read them. These are the people who always have a large TBR pile, who keep lots of books in queue. I can see them buying lots of books and loading them to their reader, keeping their reader with them, and reading down their list, then buying another pile. For those people, the reader can cost a little more (probably) but the books need to be CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. Otherwise, they'll just do what they've been doing all along and taking a box of last month's books to the Gently Used Book Emporium and trading them for next month's reading material. This already is happening in a small way in the romance category.

Then there are the geeks, who like the gadgets and don't mind paying for them. But again, the prices of the books needs to come down to keep people buying.

Library readers are also a good market, but the readers need to be CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP because they are too cheap or broke to buy books; or like me, live in tiny flats with no place to store umpteen books.

Speaking of--that's a big market right there. I figure I could clean off three or four bookshelves just replacing my copies of classic novels with free e-texts. Once I get an eink reader (either the Bookeen or the Kindle--waiting till they both come out to decide), I will do so; have already started in a limited way with downloading some books to my Treo and ditching the pbooks. I could even weed out a few more shelves of, say, my Stephen King and John Grisham hardbacks. More room for weird and obscure history reference books, yay! Or maybe even a plant or something.

But lots of the books I would happily replace with e-books aren't available. For instance, I love L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series--but all of the books aren't available, because some of them are on the wrong side of the public domain cutoff and no one has bothered to publish them. I'd PAY for them, but they're just not available. The public domain stuff is out there, both free and for small fees. Laura Ingalls Wilder is another one--my copies of her books are falling apart anyway, but they're not available as e-books. Patrick O'Brian, same thing. Georgette Heyer, same thing. In some cases I prefer the physical books, but with those writers, I have beat-up, acidic-paper-printed-turning-brown paperback copies anyway, so I would actually rather have them as e-books. I just want the story; the physical medium is unimportant to me.

I think I'm preaching to the choir here, but they simply haven't hit the sweet spot between price and availability on readers and books yet. I think we're back to getting the publishers on board...

Last edited by MaggieScratch; 10-15-2007 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 10-16-2007, 03:56 AM   #11
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Regarding the statistic that the average person only reads six books a year (if that is really accurate): That number may be true if you are only counting fiction books, or what is on the Best Seller list. However, I think that a lot of people are missing one important point. Even the average person reads quite a bit of other material in the course of a year--magazines, newspapers, work-related documentation, etc.

An e-reader device that could easily handle all of these "other" e-texts, as well as e-books, would find a much wider market. Of course, it would have to be brain-dead simple to get all of this different content onto the device. It would also have to be inexpensive. The economy of scale that a large market brings will help with price.

Another important point: We are still at a stage similar to the early days of automobiles. Those early adopters did not find the needed infrastructure (paved roads, gas stations, motels) when they ventured out on a Sunday drive. For e-reader devices to really become widespread, the needed infrastructure and standards (epub or ?) need to develop in parallel with the hardware before John Q. Public will accept e-readers, as they do MP3 players now.

Speaking of MP3 players, devices like the iPod and similar players prove that lots of people are indeed willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a gadget, if they either perceive it as the latest "cool" thing, or they can find some value in it. Think about it--when did everyone decide that being able to listen to music (or audiobooks) any time and any place was something they had to have?

Last edited by jbenny; 10-16-2007 at 04:05 AM.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:52 AM   #12
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If they can be wheedled into reading on their PDA or smartphone that they already have with them, and buy e-books easily at the airport or drugstore, or better yet download it over the air, then maybe.
Speaking as one of those who happily reads e-books on my PDA, I don't see this as a "maybe." Make the mobile purchase process easy, and I'm sure lots of PDA, smartphone and Blackberry users would be eager to do this.
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Old 10-16-2007, 07:24 AM   #13
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I'm sure that there would be many PDA/Smartphone users who would be avid eBook readers if they only knew how easy (and effective) it is. Getting the message out there is, I think, the fundamental issue. The technology isn't the problem.
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Old 10-16-2007, 08:31 AM   #14
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I'm sure that there would be many PDA/Smartphone users who would be avid eBook readers if they only knew how easy (and effective) it is. Getting the message out there is, I think, the fundamental issue. The technology isn't the problem.
I tried to read a couple of books on my Palm T5 but I found it rather inconvenient. The problem was that there was to little text on one page so you had to turn the page very often and I could not find a good reading position since you had to keep one finger on the page turning button all the time. I got cramp in my hand reading a Baen book that way. I am planning to by an E-ink reader soon and I really hope that you get more text per page on this device.

I like to buy book but I would also like not to have to carry books everywhere. So one good thing would be if you could get the e-book for free or very cheap when you bought the paper book. Also I have too many books so some books I will in the future buy only in the e-book versions.
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:29 AM   #15
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I am an avid reader, and when a new book comes out in a series I enjoy, often I like to reread the whole series from the start. Of course, that requires that I *find* the earlier books, and since I have books everywhere that's not always easy. I can't tell you how many times I have had to repurchase a book because I just can't remember which storage area has my copy...Well with ebooks that is not going to be a problem any more.

I do think that publishers need to learn the 'Barbie' lesson. No, really, bear with me! When I was a kid (a long time ago...) we all wanted Barbies. It wasn't like now, where Barbie came in collectible versions for big bucks. The doll came in a box and she was wearing a bathing suit and she was CHEAP! Really I think the manufacturer would have given the doll away for free if they could have gotten the stores to carry her. Why? Because once your kid had this doll (and you bought it for her of course because hey, it was CHEAP) you were hooked! You were a captive audience for an endless supply of overpriced outfits, shoes, accessories. The stores were like drug dealers, giving you the first dose for free and then sitting back and waiting for you to come back for more...

EBook reader manufacturers should take a lesson from Barbie. The reader itself should be sold at cost because once it's in the customer's hands, the book sales will never end. Right now they're trying to have it both ways, profiting from the reader sales and then charging hardcover prices for the ebooks, and the money they save on printing and shipping is pure profit.

Consumers are not stupid, and unless they are diehard early adopters, they need to see a benefit. At the moment, unless they are avid readers like me, the benefit is not there.
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