I can recall a New York Times staffer happily tweeting about a fall-off in ebooks’ market share. That I get. Some mainstream media people just hate E. But what to make of Good e-Reader publisher Michael Kozlowski’s proclamation that E-Books are on the decline and people are switching back to print?
Short-term, yes, E has taken hits due to price increases from Big Five publishers heavily invested in legacy infrastructure. But Pew statistics show that 28 percent of Americans read an ebook in the previous 12 months before the March-April survey—slightly more than the 27 percent from the year before. And that is with the Big Five providing headwinds. Imagine what E could do if the larger publishers would truly embrace it.
Mind you, Amazon and others could be treating booklovers much better: observe Jeff Bezo’s Putin-level contempt for readers begging for optional all-text boldface and other essentials—that’s what happens with monopolies and quasi-monopolies, be they from the Russian State or U.S. corporations. Furthermore, ebooks are not as good as paper for textbooks because of the challenge of constantly flipping around, but this will undoubtedly improve. And for other kinds of reading? Well, the best people to rebut Mike are his own readers. A few sample comments:
- “If I have a book in both hard copy and in e-book, the e-book wins out because in most cases I can select a font for size and/or boldness that is easier for me to read than the font in a hard copy.”
- “My partner goes to sleep before I do and expects darkness. My backlit Kobo means I can get my reading in without disturbing him. Also, I don’t have a lot of shelf space or room in the house. Just bought the Kobo Aura One so I’m all in on eBooks.”
- “I haven’t bought a paper book since I got a Kindle. My final paper book was the Star Trek TNG Destiny trilogy. I passed it onto a friend. I wish I had bought it on my Kindle. Anyway, I find it hard to believe that one can concentrate on paper better than a kindle.”
Could Mike have simply been trolling his followers just for the sake of inspiring spirited discussions on his blog and elsewhere (mea culpa, in regard to the post I’m writing now)?
Maybe. I certainly hope that’s the case, given that he himself is selling a $700 ebook reader whose users will presumably want him to stick around to provide support. What’s more, how about the potential of ebooks to multiply the number of books available to cash-strapped people and those in isolated locations? National digital library endowment, anyone?
So what’s your own take on the ebooks-in-decline issue and on Good eReader’s treatment of it?
Detail: Mike cites studies showing that ebooks have “few spacial landmarks” and are harder to concentrate with. How about a little ebook literacy? Too many people treat ebook reading like Web surfing. If you know how to read E properly and take as much time per page, you’ll do just fine.