I received this today through a blog I subscribe to. Google Editions is the newest foray into the world of e-books. If this is as successful as this optimistic writer makes it out to be this will revolutionize the marketplace for e-books and readers. Based upon this it would appear that Amazon will need to move quickly or perhaps be left behind.
Dear readers, I am interested in your thoughts. My immediate thoughts are in red.
1) Do you own a Kindle or similar device and what do you think of it? Do you prefer reading a physical book or are you just as happy reading a computer screen? I own a Kindle...Christmas present from my parents. It's nice but my wife uses it considerably more than I do. I personally prefer reading the real thing and don't like reading from a screen for long periods of time.
2) Do you feel the market for "books" will erode as e-readers become more prevalent? Feel free to take a stab at market share in the future. Sure the market will continue to head toward e-books just as music has continued a move toward digital files. Unfortunately these type things make more and more people think they should be able to get them for free or for very little cost. Authors and publishers don't work for free so it will be interesting to see where the market goes from that stance. Let's face it there are very few Stephanie Meyers in the world but even she deserves to still be paid for her work. Doesn't matter if you've sold 10 or 10 million copies royalties are earned. We don't expect police and firefighters to give away their work so artists should not be expected to either. I would guess we will continue seeing a higher % of e-books and the estimate given of 20-25% by 2020 is conceivable and maybe a bit on the low side.
3) Do you feel that Google will have your best interests here or is this just another way for them to target marketing and advertising towards you while also earning revenue from your purchase? Google is out to make every dollar it can. I think you'll be bombarded with "suggestions" just like through Amazon or any other retailer. Here though you have no idea what Google's motives will be. Since they are working out individual agreements with publishers it would be in their best interest to push the products they will make the highest profit margin from. Also, will Google lean on publishers to pay for these pushes? We already know that businesses pay for product placement in stores so why would this be any different. Let's just say I don't 100% trust their motives.
4) Do you think bookstores and libraries will become "things of the past"? I sure hope not. I think libraries will certainly have to adapt and do so quickly. Technology is moving so rapidly that the if libraries and librarians don't keep up they will seem like dinosaurs. I think there will always be a place for libraries. Just go to one today and see how crowded they can be. Many folks are finding the value in them based upon the overall economic climate (or perception depending on your view). I think there will always be a large percent of the population who will prefer checking a book out of a library (read that I mean FREE) even if downloading a copy is cheaper than buying a physical book. Nothing wrong with that. As I said though, if librarians adapt they will be relied upon by the public and researchers even more as resources and guides to the rapidly changing marketplace.
As far as bookstores go I think you can see a shift in the market already. B&N blasts you as you walk in the door with stands for the Nook (I hate this by the way...Let me in the door and don't block up the whole entrance). Also, in my local market many sections (Civil War being one of them) have been dramatically reduced no doubt based upon advanced sales trend information and replaced with toys, writing journals, nick knacks and other assorted non book items. If you want a "bestseller" you are in luck as that seems to be the main focus any more. If I want a specialized Civil War title (heck even most CW new releases) I have to order them. If that's the case I should just go to Amazon (or maybe call Bern at Battlefields and Beyond) and save the effort. Of course then I miss out on the bargain books and magazines but I don't have to have a Starbucks crammed down my throat either.
5) For anybody in the publishing industry (Theodore Savas immediately comes to mind if you are reading) please feel free to comment on how you feel this will affect you.
1. I own a Kindle and have bought more than twenty books for it since purchase. I enjoy reading on it as well as a paper book. It is not like reading from a PC screen, as it is not backlit. There is no glare.
2. I'd guess the market for paper books will decline considerably over the next few years, primarly because of their higher price. I imagine speciality books, like those of the ACW, will go on (partly because ebooks don't render photos and maps very well) but mainstream fiction and nonfiction will be doing well to still have half the market by 2020.
3. I don't know anything about Google, other than the controversy they've stirred up putting photos of people's homes on the Web, so can't really speculate. I do think Amazon will continue to be the main purveyor of books on the Web, and the Kindle or variations of it the primary ebook.
4. Bookstores already are an endangered species. Libraries, insofar as politicians continue to fund them, should be around forever. There's enormous amounts of material that has not been digitized and may never be.
Let me add the three advantages I think an ebook enjoys over a paper book: 1) you don't need shelf space for an ebook, 2) ebooks are a lot cheaper than paper books and the price will go down further as their popularity goes up, and 3) there's no way to beat an ebook for ease of purchase. With the Kindle, you can browse Amazon from your living room, pick the book you want, download it immediately and a few minutes later, you're reading it. No need to drive anywhere, fight traffic, burn gasoline, or stand in line.
Them's my reasons. I love my Kindle. ;-)