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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How low can the percentage go ...

... before bookstores crumble?

Digital Book World meditates today on the percentage of eBooks sold vs. traditionally printed books, and the possible implications for stores.


The figures are soft, but indicate that 50% of fiction sold is digital, while around 25% of nonfiction is read on eReaders. Interestingly, only 10% of illustrated nonfiction is being taken over by digital publishing, despite the rapid improvements in interactive technology.

The question for bookstores, is how low their share of the fiction market can drop before they buckle under, or adapt to become specialist outlets, focused on good nonfiction, illustrated children's books, and beautifully produced classics.

The second option seems sensible to me. As mass market books are taken over by digital publishing, the most flexible traditional publishers will shift to producing beautiful hardbacks, focused on nonfiction and classics, and book collectors and bibliophiles will come into their own.  And having beautiful bookstores (like the one above) to match would be both logical and a delight.

7 comments:

Rick Spilman said...

Barnes and Noble had a really terrible holiday season in print, ebooks and ereader sales. I do not think that B&N is long for this world world.

If Barnes and Noble goes away, however, imagine adding a bookstore and coffee shop to each Apple Store, where customers could browse on iPads and order POD books printed on Espresso book machines in the back, while they sip their lattes. Apple would be a hero to both the traditionalists and the hipsters by saving paper books with technology. For those who just want to sit and read, the overhead could be paid for by the $4 a cup coffees. It could develop into the world's greatest distributed library, all fueled by caffeine. The mind boggles.

Joan Druett said...

Wonderful idea. And could the POD machines print out that eBook you already own and love?

Funnily enough, though, it reminds me of the upmarket car workshops where you can sit in a lounge drinking coffee and reading glossy magazines while waiting for your auto to be fixed.

Margaret Muir said...

My immediate thought was for blind readers. Will Large Print publishers like Thorpe/Ulverscroft in UK continue to supply to this market or will blind readers turn from Large Print books (via libraries) and move to e-readers which can provide even larger fonts?

Joan Druett said...

You remind me of a visit by an old friend just before Christmas. She was intensely interested in our Kindle and iPad, and wanted to see how the font could be enlarged. I had the district impression she was choosing which one to buy, as she remarked how heavy lp books are to hold

Rick Spilman said...

I know a writer who is nearly blind who loves her Kindle for the "text to speech" feature. I have used it to listen to books on long drives and generally liked it. Unfortunately Amazon has killed the feature on several of the new Kindle e-readers including the "Paperwhite."

Joan Druett said...

One really wonders why Amazon would be "blind" enough to kill such a customer-friendly feature. Having driven on US highways myself, I know how boring long journeys can be. All my American friends depend on audio-books to get them through the tedium.

Could it be a problem with author-publisher contracts? All of mine have different clauses for digital rights and audio rights. Maybe there is a clash?

Rick Spilman said...

I think the issue with writers and publishers was resolved pretty early one. I think, in all probability, Amazon found that the feature was less used and so when they were aiming for the lowest cost on their basic Kindle, they choose to leave out the speaker. Why they chose to leave it our of the Paperwhite or early Fire, I can't say. The Touch, the Keyboard and the new Fire HD versions of the reader have the text to speech feature built in.