E-books, books you can read on your computer, are becoming an ever-bigger presence in the market. MarketWatch currently wants nearly US$6000 to tell your company the market share forecast. They now make up 21% of book sales.
Clearly, e-books would appeal to people who have more interests and ideas than they have space to store stuff. According to MarketWatch, the market is growing by roughly 20% a year. One source describes it like this:
The global eBook market is being driven by technological advancements and the sophistication of reading devices that provide an experience similar to reading a physical book. The increased use of smartphones and the multilingual capabilities are predicted to boost global demand for eBooks.“eBook Market Overview (2022-2032)” at Future Market Insights
One big issue, of course, has been “returns” of books that have probably been read: “After months of hate from high profile authors and publishers, Amazon’s change reportedly will prevent a self-service return of a Kindle ebook for a full refund if a consumer has read more than 10 percent of the text.” – 22 September 2022 (Publishing Perspectives) At one time, that cost the authors but it should be a comparatively easy fix.
The dominant players in the market are said to be Amazon, Georg Von Holtzbrinck, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins Publishers, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, Penguin Random House, Rakuten Kobo, Simon & Schuster. For self-publishers, some e-book templates are free.
Will e-books sink the publishing industry? It depends on who you talk to. Back in 2009, we could read “Oxford University Press bigwig Evan Schnittman has predicted that ebooks will never take off – because if they did, the publishing industry would be screwed.” Well, e-books took off and publishing went on as before.
One 20-something noted perceptively in 2011, “Whilst those of us who still remember Dial-up tones are perhaps grappling with this, the Digital Natives will expect to have flexible, interactive experiences using the Internet; and this certainly will not be any different for how they will want to consume their literature.”
Dial-up phones? Is that all? Oh, heavens! Some of us are old enough to remember: “Hello operator. Please connect me to Long Distance. Thank you. I should like to speak to someone in Minneapolis; that’s in the United States. I can spell it if there is any difficulty…”
The biggest issue with e-books has, of course, been piracy. But in that respect, digital methods are as much a friend as an enemy. A digital system can tell how far a reader read into a book, for example.
As some industry mavens have pointed out, many people just like physical books, period. So the collectors’ market will continue. Also, publishing maven Karen McDermott told Forbes’s Business Council last year that audio books will continue to grow as a way to keep up with ideas when reading is not practical.