Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Electronic This and That

I receive quite a few eNewsletters and alerts. One of the more recent ones is from PW Daily and the tag line that caught my attention is: More iPhone e-Books.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6624689.html?nid=2286&source=title&rid=173369612

I find this intriguing for a number of reasons. The first is that it wasn't that long ago that many of the "big" publishers were dismissing eBooks as a fad that would never find a commercial audience. Of course, back then we didn't have the proliferation of electronic devices that we now have. Second, in some ways we've come a long way and in others we haven't. The article in the above link talks about how pricey the eBooks for the iPhone are right now. Often price is a deterrent for the acceptance of new ways of doing things so I'm always suspicious of why some manufacturers seem to price themselves out of success. Last, timing is important along with knowing the audience that is using the iPhones and therefore would be the logical audience for purchasing content for this device.

The price points mentioned in the PW Daily article suggests an older audience with more money. I could be wrong but I'm not sure the younger crowd, especially the college group, is going to pay the same price for an eBook on the iPhone as the hardcover price. The perception that electronic versions should be more affordable than paper ones has hung on for quite a long time and I doubt it will go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see how well the iPhone does with eBooks but one thing is sure - despite the predictions that eBooks would never find an audience there are certainly lots and lots of manufacturers trying to get in on the action. Even though ebooks are a smaller portion of the types of books sold, publishers can no longer afford to ignore having an eBook format.

Ironically, one area where publishers are actually pushing the eBook or electronic format is in their own catalogs typically produced to librarians and booksellers. The main reason is the amount of money saved in print and shipping costs. In this case, the switch to e-format is being pushed from the top down, in other words, the publishers are forcing this on the consumer for their catalog - the librarians and the booksellers. Now, they won't force it on their reading public but it does make one wonder why they seem to be actively getting in the way of it being adopted by their consumers by making the e-format as expensive as the phyical paper format. Obviously, I'm missing something. I hoped to be enlightened one of these days.

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