Monday, October 11, 2010

Blog post: The view from Frankfurt: who controls the ebook business?

Alastair Horne has written a very good post about a panel discussion at the Frankfurt Book Fair entitled "The eBook Business: Who’s in Control?". While publishers had come close to losing control of the ebook business, the tide has turned due to increased competition, which means that publishers are out of it yet.
The panel agreed that, with ebooks currently accounting for approximately 15% of trade sales in the United States, it no longer made any sense to have a separate strategy for ebooks: digital had instead to be at the heart of a more general publishing strategy. 
The prediction is that ebook could account for 50% of book sales in five years.  That type of shift will put pressure on brick-and-mortar bookstore, who may see their needed shelf space decrease and a lose in business.

Two areas not addressed in the article are textbooks and libraries.  Textbooks continue to increase in price and are often available only in hardcopy.  E-textbooks could be lower cost and provide more information (e.g., connecting the text to other sources).  Many students carry laptops, iPads and smartphones to class (at least in the U.S.) which means that they have an ebook reader available to them.  Wouldn't it be great if they could have their books on that reader?

Some libraries are carrying ebooks, but I don't know if there is yet an agreed upon model for library pricing, circulation policies, etc.  Could it be that some books will only be available in ebook format?  What would happen if a library couldn't get a needed book because it couldn't handle that format?

The FutureBook blog has other blog posts about the Frankfurt Book Fair and promised to have more.  Blog posts already available include:

1 comment:

Gary McGath said...

If an e-book is encumbered with DRM, I don't consider it "sold," just leased for an indefinite, unpredictable period.

This raises serious concerns for preservation. If a book is available only in DRM form, will any copies at all be readable in ten years or fifty?