I received a link to this from Joel this morning. It’s a good review and an eye-opener, if you haven’t been paying attention.
Mike says: “One could say (and I would) that the ereading revolution is coming up to its 4th anniversary since it was late November 2007 when Amazon first released the Kindle. There had been dedicated ereading devices before then, including the Sony Reader — in the market when Kindle arrived and still here, if not wildly successful — and the already-defunct Rocket Book and Softbook devices that had debuted and disappeared some years before. And in the early 1990s we had the Sony Bookman, which showed only a few lines of text at one time and disappeared with barely a trace. The biggest-selling ebook format, before Kindle, put content on the Palm Pilot and the total ebook market was so far beneath a rounding error that any investment by a publisher in digitization was being made on faith, not on commercial evidence.
And many people in publishing believed that reading on a screen would take many years to take hold, if it ever would.
Now, less than four years later, we are living in a changed world, although not yet a transformed one. But transformed might be coming very soon.”
I find it interesting that Mike Shatzkin, at least, sees little market for graphically intensive ebooks. I would have said that also, but my experience with selling ePUBs and Kindle versions of font design and page layout textbooks suggests that may not be true either. I would have assumed that people interested in font design would not be able to stand the poor typographic options of an ePUB or Kindle book. But sales of Practical Font Design, Writing in InDesign, and others have easily made the 20% threshold of ebook sales which Mike talks about. In addition, another 20–30% of sales have been downloadable PDFs.
Distribution of ebooks exceeds print for unknown authors
I believe this is the key. It is one Mike slides past without much mention. Ebooks often start the sales of new authors with the print sales only appearing much later. Of course, every author’s story will differ.
Long term, it’s the price
This is the real ebook transformation. The cheap book is back in many ways. Many readers are really upset that a cheap paperback in now $10 or more. It is not worth that mych moeny to many of us. I expect this will be an increasing force drvining ebooks sales. I will still buy Cussler in paperback as long as his ebook prices remain the same print. But when they drop to resonable levels (like $5 or so) I go to ebooks. The brand name of a Clive Cussler will become increasingly rare as we go forward. Prices will go down.
- Go Read This | Will print and ebook publishers ultimately be doing the same books? – The Shatzkin Files (eoinpurcellsblog.com)
- Library eBooks for Kindle at Last!!! (fremontlibraries.wordpress.com)