I start with a confession: I much prefer paper books. However, I believe change is coming.
For example, Markos Moulitsas has praised his Kindle and tweets that he has purchased at least 30 books for Kindle (his tweet also raises pricing issues that warrant further discussion).
Third, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords ebook publisher writes:
Ebooks represent the fastest growing segment of the book publishing industry. Ebook sales have been increasing over 100 percent per year the last couple years, according to the latest industry research, while traditional print book sales have stagnated or declined.
I also foresee ebooks creating a "crashing the gate" situation that will revolutionize relationships between writers, agents, publishers & readers and crashing gates is what this site is supposed to be about, right?
Oh my, what strange creatures these e-book readers be . . .
Lotke's book is called 2044 and while I haven't finished it yet, I like what I've read, thus far.
Why haven't I purchased an ebook reader, yet?
Well, I have a very short commute to work and rarely travel out of town.
Also, it is far from clear to me which device will offer the best value and combination of features. And, I expect prices to fall and features to continue to improve. And in the meantime I can buy Kindle books to read on my computer.
In any event, Kindle currently holds a commanding lead within the ebook market and some analysts predict Amazon will sell 3 million Kindle ebook readers in 2010.
It's pretty apparent we've reached a tipping point in consumer acceptance of eReaders, if analyst Doug Anmuth is correct in his prediction that Amazon will sell three-million or so Kindles in 2010.
That represents a 62 percent increase over Kindle sales in 2009. Overall, Kindle-related sales could reach $1.6 billion this year, which could end up representing 5 percent of Amazon's bottom line. Not bad, as that number will only grow in coming years.
Anmuth is an analyst with Barclays Capital.
The Good: Includes an additional color screen, permits friends to borrow downloaded books from one another, and allows free browsing of entire books when the user is in a Barnes & Noble store.
The Bad: Slow to boot up, format text, and display it on the screen. Color screen and Wi-Fi connection drain battery life.
The Good: Lighter and faster than the Nook, it boasts longer battery life, and each of its features has been thoroughly tested in the market.
The Bad: The physical keyboard seems clunky and unnecessary. And it lacks some clever features, such as lending rights.
To add to the confusion, Amazon has since released their Kindle DX even as the new Apple iPad could prove to be a "Kindle killer" although Amazon is already making moves to protect its current dominant market position.
Mark Coker of Smashwords recently blogged about a panel presentation he was scheduled to give this past Saturday (February 13th):
The popular (and sold out) San Francisco Writers Conference kicks off next week.
Dan Poynter and I are sitting on a panel titled, "THE EBOOK REVOLUTION: How eReaders are Transforming Publishing." The panels starts at 9:00am on Saturday, February 13, and is moderated by literary agent Ted Weinstein. If you're attending the conference, stop by and say hi!
Coker believes that the economics of ebooks will radically alter the publishing industry and the role played by agents and publishers in acting as gatekeepers that connect authors to readers. Here are his 10 predictions for the book publishing industry in 2020:
- 95% of all reading will be on screens
- There will be fewer bookstores, though books will be more plentiful than ever before.
- The entire book supply chain from author to customer will become atomized into its component bits. Value-adders will continue to find great success in publishing. Dinosaurs, leeches and parasites will be flushed out of new publishing ecosystems faster than ever before.
- Most authors will be indie authors
- Successful publishing companies will be those that put the most net profit in the author's pocket. No, not the highest per-unit royalty percentage.
- If the big six NY book publishers (the fat head) today publish 50% of what's sold, and the long tail of thousands of indie publishers comprise the rest, then 10 years from now the fat head will shrink to 10% and the long tail will get both taller and longer. There will be more published authors than ever before, and collectively they will earn record revenues, yet individually the average "published" author 10 years from now will earn less than the average "commercially published" author today. Advantage will go to those with best ability to reach their audience.
- 10 years from now, we will all be authors, publishers and booksellers
- Digital books will most commonly be referred to as "books," not ebooks.
- For those who still call books ebooks, it'll be spelled "ebook," not E-Book or e-book. Who today still calls email E-Mail?
- Authors will write for a global market
Here are links to Seth Godin's answers this this same question.
Richard Curtis offers interesting predictions as well, especially his comment about the Espresso machine:
Richard Curtis: What Changes Do You See for Book Publishing in the Next 10 Years?
- First and foremost I predict that the size and price of Espresso print on demand will come down to the point where POD kiosks will be installed in non-bookstores like supermarkets, libraries, pharmacies and the like. Which means that...
- The grip of Barnes & Noble as the go-to bookseller will be loosened. You'll be able to buy a book at Publix, Duane Reade, or Starbucks. You'll have a selection of millions of titles, not just what can be packed into the shelves and tables of a brick and mortar bookstore.
- Amazon, now a de facto publisher, would throw off the cloak and come out as a full competitor with traditional publishers.
I've bought about 30 books on Kindle at $9.99, many on an impulse. Raise to $14-15, I have to think harder, maybe buy 10.
That offers context to the recent kerfluffle between Amazon and Macmillan with Amazon allegedly caving in . . .
A new development in the Amazon vs. Macmillan fiasco. Amazon just posted an announcement indicating that it will be "capitulating" to Macmillan by selling the publishers’ books for their desired prices.
Macmillan is trying to price their e-books at $15, while Amazon prices e-books at $9.99. Macmillan’s CEO John Sargent said that unless Amazon sets the price of new e-books to $15, the publisher will not distribute new books to Amazon when they are released. On Friday, Amazon basically banned titles, both paper and digital, published by Macmillan by refusing to directly sell them. And Macmillan took out an ad in the Publishers Marketplace magazine protesting the tactics being used by Amazon regarding pricing.
Amazon is now giving into Macmillan’s demands because of the publisher’s monopoly over its titles. In a passive aggressive manner, Amazon says that readers will decide whether it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for e-books. And that other publishers will compete by offering their books and lower prices.
But wait, Amazon counters (January 20, 2010):
Amazon dropped a bomb on the publishing world Wednesday morning by announcing a new royalty program that will allow authors to earn 70 percent royalties from each e-book sold, but with a catch or two. The move will pay participating authors more per book than they typically earn from physical book sales so long as they agree to certain conditions—conditions that make it clear that Amazon is working on keeping the Kindle attractive in light of upcoming competition. Still, authors and publishers are split on how good this deal really is.
Amazon's old system will remain in place for those who don't want to participate in the new arrangement, but the carrot to upgrade is pretty attractive—a typical $8.99 book would pay an author $3.15 under the "standard" system, while an author or publisher would get $6.25 under the new 70 percent scheme.
The catch, however, is that authors or publishers must list their books for between $2.99 and $9.99 on the Kindle. A majority of Kindle books already fall into this range, but authors are able to set prices higher if they want, and some do.
Charge $14.99 for your ebook and receive a much smaller royalty percentage from Amazon or charge $9.99 or less for your ebook and receive a much larger royalty percentage. Heh!
Anyway, what is a "fair" price for an ebook? How much of a discount is reasonable when a publisher can avoid the expense of actually printing and shipping a physical book?
With the availability of Kindle, Smashwords and others to publish ebooks on demand along with Create Space, Lulu and others to publish print on demand, indie authors have more options and more tools than ever before.
This means a lot more bad writing will be published.
Then again Harper Collins (a gold standard publisher) certainly dropped the ball with Sarah Palin's book. This still makes me laugh:
In her new book, "Going Rogue," former vice presidential nominee attributes a quote to UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden.
The only problem is that he didn't say it.
"Our land is everything to us...I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it -- with their lives."
It's a nice quote, but it really doesn't sound like something that Wooden would say. It was actually written by Native American activist John Wooden Legs in his essay "Back on the War Ponies."
Even though the names are similar, it looks as if Palin sort of airballed on this one. Well, I suppose everyone should just forgive and forget as long as the rest of the book is accurate...
Palin? Yes we should mock Sarah Palin for this mistake and for the countless other mistakes in her book, but what about Harper Collins? I thought rigorous fact checking was part of the deal that went publishing a book with a gold standard publisher.
And part of the deal that came with buying a book published by a gold standard publishing house.
What is certain is that the publishing industry is entering a challenging new phase as they face the same Internet and technology driven market forces as the news media, politics, retailing and tele-communications.