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Old 07-22-2009, 03:17 PM   #1
Elfwreck
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Article: "More reasons to worry about ebooks than I thought"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/book...1/ebooks-worry
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Ebooks are changing literary culture in numerous ways, none of them reassuring
...
He asks of the Kindle, for instance, "What will its impact be on high street retailers? Does it open the back door for Amazon to become a monopolist retailer (and then publisher)? – Will the price of digitised books be driven down to the extent that margins/prices on hard-copy books are pushed up? – Where does the author stand in all this?" He also raises interesting questions about the potential benefits such travel-friendly devices might yield ("Could this be the rebirth of the serial and the short story, where commuters read the latest release on their way to work and talk about it when they arrive?") and about how the devices might be used to breed brand loyalty for publishers and writers.

Clearly, it's a debate worth having. It seems that ebook readers are on the way, no matter what we think of them, so we're going to have to work out how to use them to the best advantage of everyone involved.
-----------
A bit over-focused on the Kindle and wireless access, but I suppose between the K's popularity and various netbooks, the concern isn't misplaced, just a bit exaggerated. (He also assumes that non-DRM'd books will of course be available for free instantly, and nobody will pay for them. Gah.)

Definitely brings up some issues worth considering.
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:44 PM   #2
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I actually read the whole thing for a change. You know what? I don't think that person has ever used an e-reading device, not even the Kindle he is warning us about. I dunno about you guys, but personally, I find it hard to use my Sony as a way to edit history texts. It doesn't have a keyboard.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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Whispernet was a feature, now a drawback.

I think it's funny that in the wake of the Orwell recall scandal, all of a sudden the Kindle's Whispernet and wireless connectivity aren't features--they're drawbacks.

How much do you want to bet that a lack of wireless without auto-updating are going to be touted as 'features' by other e-reader devices competing with the Kindle?
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:38 PM   #4
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I also share Paul Emmanuelli's fear about the monopoly DRM software could grant Amazon. If the Kindle achieves the same kind of market dominance Apple has with iTunes, it could have disastrous consequences. Effectively, there would be only one publisher; one gateway between writers and the public. And if you're an author and Amazon doesn't like you, or hasn't heard of you, you are – let's not mince words – screwed.
Frankly, I am still amazed by this attitude. Hello... internet era? Global outreach on a self-made website? Blogs ahoy?

Just because Amazon controls the books that go through its store, doesn't mean there is no other way to get books into it. Publishers and Indie authors can easily promote, advertise and sell their wares completely independently of Amazon, which can be read on other than Amazon devices, guaranteeing that it will never, ever have a "monopoly" over books as long as there is a world wide web.

Concerns that Amazon will create a publishing and distribution monopoly are just plain ludicrous overreactions.
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
Concerns that Amazon will create a publishing and distribution monopoly are just plain ludicrous overreactions.
Agreed, all the postings here, and on blogs, and all over the internet have just left me gobsmacked. Do people even think before they post these days? I've seen so much insanity over what, at its worst, is a minor hiccup, I just question the mental stability of some folks.

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Old 07-22-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Teddman View Post
I think it's funny that in the wake of the Orwell recall scandal, all of a sudden the Kindle's Whispernet and wireless connectivity aren't features--they're drawbacks.

How much do you want to bet that a lack of wireless without auto-updating are going to be touted as 'features' by other e-reader devices competing with the Kindle?
But of course they are features, and valuable and important features at that!!
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Old 07-22-2009, 05:59 PM   #7
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Ah yes, the sky is falling. Yet again.

Actually, I do have to say that while I disagree with the author's perspective it is important to recognize that e-books readers are still a small percentage of the reading public, and the general public has a lot to learn about both the pros and cons.
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
Actually, I do have to say that while I disagree with the author's perspective it is important to recognize that e-books readers are still a small percentage of the reading public, and the general public has a lot to learn about both the pros and cons.
Yes, this.

I'd like more articles that point out that ebooks are complicated--that there are a lot of filetypes, a lot of software issues, a lot of hardware issues, some copyright tangles, and a host of other concerns involved. There isn't going to be any quick-and-simple "Company X Has Fixed The Ebook Problem!!!" solution.

Ebooks are going to change the face of publishing perhaps as much as 4-color printing did. Perhaps more. (Perhaps not, but it'll happen faster, and in more places at once.)

I'd love to see a lot more awareness that ebooks are not some weird, fringe hobby thing that only matter to techno-fanatics. They're not going away, and they're not getting simpler as time goes by and we get more gadgets that can read them.
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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It's interesting that almost everything in that quoted excerpt is from the point of view of authors or publishers, not the reader. It's speaking in terms of monetary matters.

"Ebooks are changing literary culture in numerous ways, none of them reassuring."

But if you look at it from another point of view, it IS reassuring. Books will always survive in electronic form, no matter how much paper degrades over time. With e-readers, regardless of one's proximity to a library or bookstore, almost any book can be found on the internet and read on a device in a book-like manner.

In the grand scheme of history, the advent of the ebook is a great thing.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:02 AM   #10
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I see this kind of thinking in publishing all the time. "Print sales are down! It must be the e-book's fault."
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
Frankly, I am still amazed by this attitude. Hello... internet era? Global outreach on a self-made website? Blogs ahoy?
Did you also notice that they only talk about the Kindle (and maybe, in a very small corner, almost afraid to mention it, they'll also say there's something like a sony reader)? They just see Amazon, and don't look further...

Quote:
Originally Posted by carld View Post
Agreed, all the postings here, and on blogs, and all over the internet have just left me gobsmacked. Do people even think before they post these days? I've seen so much insanity over what, at its worst, is a minor hiccup, I just question the mental stability of some folks.

Carl
I get the feeling they are copying from each other, add a few personal "insights" and that's it... As Steve said, there's nothing beyond the borders of Amazon (apparently...)

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Originally Posted by doreenjoy View Post
I see this kind of thinking in publishing all the time. "Print sales are down! It must be the e-book's fault."
This makes me wonder...

1) How many paper books were sold 10 years ago?
2) How many paper books were sold last year?
3) How many electronic books were sold last year?

(all in absolute numbers)

Theoretically, 2 + 3 should be the same as 1 (maybe with a certain multiplier to account for the population growth and such).
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:42 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sweetpea View Post

1) How many paper books were sold 10 years ago?
2) How many paper books were sold last year?
3) How many electronic books were sold last year?

(all in absolute numbers)

Theoretically, 2 + 3 should be the same as 1 (maybe with a certain multiplier to account for the population growth and such).
No, I'm sorry I don't agree. I must have bought or downloaded >50 ebooks in the 9 months or so that I've had my Cybook. I certainly did not buy >50 print books in the 9 months before I got it.

Regards, Alex
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Old 07-23-2009, 03:02 AM   #13
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No, I'm sorry I don't agree. I must have bought or downloaded >50 ebooks in the 9 months or so that I've had my Cybook. I certainly did not buy >50 print books in the 9 months before I got it.

Regards, Alex
In that case, the total sales would have been up. But, if it's true what they are saying (ebook sales are eating into the pbook sales), it would mean that the total sales would be the same (or more or less the same).

My personal opinion is that the total amount of sales is much higher. Yes, the pbook sales might be a bit lower, but this is more than compensated by the ebook sales.

If I take myself as example: I used to buy about 1 book a month (on average), generally pockets.

Now, I buy about 3 books a month (on average), all ebooks. So, they lose those 12 pockets a year, but gain 36 ebooks a year.

But right now, I'm only buying in US based shops (much cheaper as I don't have to pay that 19% VAT I'd have to pay over ebooks if I bought them here as opposed to the 6% VAT on pbooks). So, in my case, yes, they (as in the Dutch stores) lose sales, but not because I buy ebooks, but because a) they don't have the selection I want and b) because they are way more expensive than their US counterparts.
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:07 PM   #14
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E-book sales are less than 4% of the book sales market, even for publishers with relatively large e-book sales (like Harlequin, which was one of the first publishers to get into e-books).

Even though print sales have dropped significantly for all categories but Romance in the last 10 years, e-book sales are a tiny tiny portion of the total sales.
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