It’s been six years since Amazon introduced the first generation Kindle eBook reader on November 19, 2007. Priced at $399, it sold out within six hours and remained out of stock until late April, 2008. Thus the eBook marketplace was set on fire. Today, several new Kindle versions are available, and many other companies have released their own e-readers, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader, and the Kobo Aura, to name a few. While e-readers were first designed for the simple task of downloading and displaying books, the introduction of tablet computers brought significant change to the industry. Tablets are incredibly popular, due to their versatile capabilities and advanced technology; they can run interactive apps, play audio and video, and access the internet. Today, many e-readers have adopted tablet capabilities, in order to compete with the market. But the success of e-readers has not been celebrated by all. Publishers and libraries, for example, have been at war over the new age of eBooks. Bookstores have been in decline with more and more people buying books digitally. The importance of libraries is therefore increasing, but discerning their role in an age of constant technological change is difficult. Adding to the confusion, providing access to eBooks is three times more expensive for libraries. The costs associated with eBooks, as opposed to print books, are different, and that fact opens up much argument over eBook prices. According to a 2010 article in The New Yorker, Amazon’s control over the market was causing the publishing industry to panic. Amazon was buying titles from publishers and selling them for less to encourage Kindle sales. As a result, 80% of all eBooks sold were indeed through the Kindle. Publishers worried that their eBook pricing – $9.99 per book – would be established as the set monetary value for books in consumers’ minds. The consequences of this would be disastrous; publishers had no way of profiting from such a low price. The cost of producing books is considerable, and the publishing business is not highly profitable. Publishers get a certain percentage of return when selling to bookstores, but they also have to account for, and in many cases write-off, the cost of producing books: the authors’ royalties; the paper, printing and binding; marketing and distribution; and the publishing house’s rent and employee salaries. There was, however, a glimmer of hope among publishers with the release of Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet on April 3, 2010. They hoped the iPad, Amazon’s new competition, would grant publishers an advantage that would allow them to raise the price of books. Apple introduced agency pricing, which allowed the publisher (not the retailer) to set the price, resulting in eBook prices higher than $9.99. Despite this victory, debates, lawsuits and battles surrounding e-readers and eBooks continue. The introductory path of e-readers and eBooks has been rocky, but their growing popularity among consumers has been massive. Digital book sales have grown more than 4,000% since 2008, and continue to be the fastest growing segment of the book market. Last year, eBook sales accounted for 20% of all books sold. For those worried about the decline of physical books, take heart. While 457 million eBooks were sold last year, 557 million hardcover books were also sold. The number of eBooks sold in 2012 grew by 43% - significantly less than the previous years of triple-digit percentage increases. A survey from last year found that half of all readers don’t buy, and have no interest in buying, eBooks and the majority who do, buy physical books as well. Another survey found that 48% of iPad users don’t buy eBooks, either. Do you read eBooks? If so, what’s your favorite device?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/05/15/e-book-sales/2159117/ http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/05/15/e-books-print-books/2159037/ http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_auletta http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/12/11/the-wrong-war-over-ebooks-publishers-vs-libraries/ http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Tablets-Surge-Ereaders-Struggle/1009555 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Kindle http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/technology/judge-rules-against-apple-in-e-books-trial.html?_r=0