By Anthony S. Policastro
I was intrigued by Evan Schnittman's new blog Black Plastic Glasses and his post "Why ebooks must fail" because it contradicts what is happening all over the Internet - ebook sites are popping up like weeds.The miracle grow for ebooks is the launch of the second generation Kindle, the Stanza book reading application for the iPhone and ebooks being the preferred reading format of the younger generations who grew up on computers.
As print book sales have tanked in the past few years partly because young people don't read books anymore because they are on their cell phones, video games, and computers, the ebook has gained in popularity because it can be read on these devices. So what I see happening is an increase in ebook sales as print book sales dwindle.
I think Evan is right that ebook sales cannot sustain the publishing industry as a stand alone only book version and that will never happen because people - the market - will always want a printed book no matter what their age.But, I don't believe ebooks will fail - they will replace print book sales with real sales, not the virtual sales that publishers have used for the past 100 years. And I say virtual because the bookstores really hadn't purchased the book shipment until they write the check after their 90-day waiting to sell period is over. So the publisher really doesn't know the true sales number until the 90 days are up and as we know it's usually 50% of the original shipment.
So what I see is a paradigm market shift in the format of the content. The older, traditional book market prefers the printed page, while the younger book market prefers the digital version. If anything, the ebook will get the younger generations reading books again - something they do not do because the Internet, video games, and cell phones are more intriguing than the printed word.
I find myself on the computer more than I'm reading a printed book and usually have to remind myself to pick up that novel. I enjoy both digital and printed books.
The challenge facing the publishing industry is to create a business model that will help sustain them in the eBook market. One way could be a combination of print and ebook offerings to capture each market segment. And the eBook segment may just work because its volumes and subsequently its profits will be higher than the print version market.
What do you think?