E-books and the future of publishing

The publishing industry has undergone a major shift in the past few years, and is still reeling from the double whammy of a lousy economy coupled with the introduction and growing adoption of e-readers. The way we consume information is changing. And it’s these e-readers — Kindle, Nook and the iPad to name three — that will continue to morph and shape the way we interact with books. Though the printed, bound book we’ve all come to know and love will likely never go away, the portability and ease of e-books has made them an attractive alternative to hard and softcovers. Factor in the affordability and ease of purchasing titles online (no more waiting for the UPS guy to show up with your Amazon order), and it’s no wonder so many people are opting for the electronic version. So what can we expect in the coming year? More iPad, less Kindle. Like most of their products, Apple’s iPad was a real game changer. Not only is it larger than the Kindle and most e-readers, the iPad is a multi-tasker that merges an e-reader with an iPod and a notebook computer. This makes it easy for iPad owners to do more with less. More e-sales. The New York Times has been promising/threatening to create a list of bestselling electronic titles, and they’ll do it this year. This will lend greater legitimacy to e-books and raise their profile, officially recognizing them as a viable distribution channel. This will also highlight the rise of self-published titles, which some pundits are predicting could make up as much as 25 percent of online book sales next year. Getting your novel, essay or short stories in the hands of readers has never been easier. In a perfect world the AP Stylebook will make up 50 percent of online sales, and would-be Hemingways will edit their work before releasing it into the wild. Hey, a boy can hope. All this electronic reading will have an impact on the brick-and-mortar bookstores, but ironically it’s the little guys and gals in the book world that will benefit from all this. The main selling point of a Borders, Books a Million or Barnes and Noble is their massive inventory; the ability to browse through thousands of titles. These stores have been late to the online party and have lost much of that market share. As more and more readers go online, they’re more likely to buy from Borders.com than from the store closest to them. Both Borders and Barnes and Noble have been teetering for the past few years — look for some store closures in 2011. But the independent bookstores will likely be fine. They’ve managed to cultivate lasting relationships with their readers, through in-store events, book clubs and other activities, doing a better job of integrating themselves with the community than have the corporate chains. So whether you do your reading in a comfy chair or at the coffee shop on your e-reader or iPad, you’ll still have plenty of options. Comments? Questions? Want more? Or email us at booked@thereader.com.

posted at 07:59 pm
on Monday, January 10th, 2011

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