Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the State of E-Publishing

It's time to talk e-publishing again. Yes this is a reality but I don't think we all have to panic yet. The shift is not going to occur in the US or worldwide like the shift to HD Television did. It is in our future but I, unlike many out there, do not believe it is going to happen overnight.

I have read several people talking about how the shift is now. They are hearing grandmothers talking about getting a Sony. They are hearing textbook publishers talking about potentially going to an e-pub format and schools buying devices. But here it the truth. It is all talk!

If we think back to all of the major technalogical moves the world has made, it took a LONG time for the shift to occur. Personal computers came out and there was the belief that in 10-20 years everyone would have one. Hey, I got my first computer in high school and that was a TRS-80 Double Disk Drive and since that time, there are still a ton of families out there with no computer. Take it from me who spent a large amount of time teaching. There are more students than you think that have to still rely on going to the library and using a public computer. The computer shift is simply not here yet.

The same will go for the e-readers. Sure, I have a Sony but it is one of the early versions. It does what I want it to do. Nothing more. Nothing less. But for me to rush out and get a new device every time a Kindle, iPad, Sony, or Nook changes what they are doing is not going to happen. There are still far too many bugs to be worked out. These devices are still in their infancy.

Have you ever noticed who the people are that scream the change is happening right now? It is the people who have an invested interest in you buying those e-readers. The companies say it is now. The companies are the ones releasing all of this great news of sales to really get the public to think that going to the library or book store is something your grandparents used to do. Sorry to say it, but let's study some of those numbers.

E-readers were the top purchase item this last holiday season? Why? People got them for other people. And now we are hearing everyone is buying e-books - the sales are through the roof? Why? Well, for most of those people, when we bought our brother or sister that e-reader, we likely bought them a gift card to get their own books. They are now realizing that they might as well get off the stick and buy a book. There will be a spike in sales with books, much the same way there is a spike in battery sales at Christmas to go with all of those "some assembly required" toys.

Look, I am not saying e-books are not a wave of the future. It is going to be something we do. But the days of books are from over. Don't panic. If you like holding a book in your hand then please, keep buying the books. Demand your book store supplies more for you. Force the libraries to stay open and get more. It is your say, not the companies guilting you into something.


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