IT is time for readers of eBooks to be heard, to turn the page, so to speak, on their eReader.
I LOVE me print books, reading them, writing them, publishing them. But I am disheartened by the stall in eBook sales.
Figures show eBook sales have plateaued in the past 12 months
The New York Times tells us eBook sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year. The NYT quotes the Association of American Publishers. AAM collects data from 1200 publishers to declare digital books about 20 per cent of the market, the same as they were years ago.
Those of us who predicted eBooks would dominate the market are still many a year shy of seeing it happen.
I believe it will happen and I do not see any downside. Print books will always remain viable just as stand-up comedians preserve the oral tradition which dominated story-telling before universal literacy.
A few main social phenomena have impeded the advance of eBooks.
Bookish eReader needed
ONE of the social brakes on eReaders is they have never replicated physical books as I thought they would. I thought we would by now have a reader which folded in half to 6in X 9in size and could store thousands of books. It would have the advantages of eReaders such as automatic bookmarks, touch-screen page turning, font-size adjustments and linking within the book and outside it.
Despite all these clear advantages of eBooks, dedicated eReaders never became as popular as expected. Amazon now markets its Kindle Fire as a tablet and it looks like one rather than like a book.
The big publishers have hindered the transition by overpricing their eBooks even to the ludicrous stage where an eBook can cost more than a print version.
Gaia will thank you
THIS overpricing has proven an effective strategy against indie authors who can compete against the majors in distribution of eBooks but not in distributing print books. By charging $15 or more for an eBook the majors encourage readers to go for print. The Biggies also falsely imply $3-6 prices for eBooks by Indies show the disparity in quality between the self-pubs and the big companies. Finally those loyal to the new technology are paying exploitive prices for eBooks of the majors, of which the author receives a share of less than a fifth. Not surprisingly, the eBook market share of the 1200 publishers in the AAP stable has fallen to 35 per cent. In other words Amazon but mainly indie authors and publishers have 65 per cent of eBook sales.
In theory the market should also sort out the skewed consumption of eBooks compared to print as people realise quality eBooks can be significantly cheaper with more features and easier to buy and have delivered as well as being more environmentally friendly. Gaia will thank you. But one huge social phenomenon, the dominance of the smartphone, is working against the adoption of eBooks.
Cell phones reproduce like amoeba
STUDIES show that up to 80-per-cent of internet access is through a smartphone. A phone is an efficient way to take pictures, upload and receive social media and texts but a phone sucks for reading a book. Many millennials at this stage would rather read a print book than buy a tablet which will read books but otherwise is inferior to the phone in terms of convenience. As an experiment, the next time you are on public transport check out the number of fellow travellers using a cell compared to a tablet. At a concert or a play you receive warnings to turn off your phone not your tablet though it can beep and burp at inconvenient moments.
The smartphone at this point in time is like a secular icon with that noun deliberately used to reflect religious overtones. I suspect it could be having an adverse effect on youthful reading in both amount and diversity. Whether the phone can endure the challenges of wearable computers remains to be seen. You would suspect wearable computers would less dominate people’s lives and lifestyles. Not even CIA agents like to be seen constantly talking into their wrists.
I saw the future on an eReader
EVEN the most monumental changes can take a long time to make a significant impression on society. Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440 but it was five centuries before the printed tradition supplanted through a splurge of literacy the oral tradition for the telling of stories. What an incredible effect that transition had with the fall of empires quickly following it.
And now we are moving from the print tradition to the digital. I doubt we will be waiting 500 years for it to play out. Please pass me the eReader, the one that looks like a book and holds 10,000 titles.
BENT Banana Books is having an EBOOK SALE with all titles reduced by up to 70 per cent. The sale runs only until the end of January. Please send this link to the smartphones of your friends. Bernie will thank you. http://bentbananabooks.com/product-category/ebook/
As a reward Vision III Flight of the Reluctant Psychic is yours FREE from Amazon from January 1-5 (US time)
Remember all Bent Banana eBooks are reduced up to 70% in January except for O Lorde which is 0.99 cents, anyway.
Here is our song:
The passing this week of the Easybeats lead singer Stevie Wright means we must play this one. Dig the male Go Go Dancer. Some outrageous yet subtle touches make you proud to be an Aussie.
And then there’s Lemmy, the man just dealt the Ace of Spades.