In the first five months of this year, sales of consumer e-books in America overtook those of hardback books. Amazon now sells more e-books than paper books. That really is an incredible statistic. Borders, who not so long ago, could be seen in all America’s shopping malls pretty much, has liquidated all of its stores in the US. Times..they are definitely changing in the US book marketplace.
The digitisation of books:
Books are indeed swiftly following music and newspapers into the digital world. This has major advantages both for readers and publishers. Getting the balance right in terms of print-runs is no longer an issue. And readers love the flexibility and easy downloading options. And of course, when reading via a Kindle, or Ipad, no-one knows what you are reading!
The big problem for publishers will be piracy. A routine search on a file-sharing website such as Pirate Bay, shows many e-books already there for download, either individually or as part of a bundle.
As the “agency” pricing model takes hold in the digital world, there is a multitude of cheap books and self-published novelists only too happy to sell their books at low prices to widen their readership.
The dominance of Amazon:
Amazon sells over 90% of e-books in the UK, and is clearly the dominant player. Even with the success of the iPad, Apple’s iBookstore has struggled to gain a decent market share. With a tablet computer pitched as a rival to the iPad imminent, Amazon is tightening it’s grip alarmingly on the e-book market.
The usual counter-argument of there is nothing to rival the experience of being in the bookshop, is old hat now. Consumers have clearly moved on. And supermarkets are now major players in terms of sales; casting another dark cloud upon their horizon. Both traditional booksellers and publishers must confront the problems that have afflicted other media industries that have gone digital, if they are to survive the “Amazonisation” of the book industry.