Sunday, February 24, 2008

Times Online Notes E-Book Opportunity

The Times Online looks at Cookery books and notes this:

This enduring power of the cookery book is worth bearing in mind when Sony and Amazon, and doubtless others, eventually inflict their electronic book readers on the British public. Their arrival, probably this year, undoubtedly will be accompanied by excitable speculation about the death of the book, predictions about the inevitabilty of digital domination and the expectation of hard times that lie ahead for publishers. Ideally, all this discussion will appear in physical newspapers and magazines before the writer turns, later that day, to reading their hardback/paperback tome of the moment. Never mind, it is easy to overvalue the impact of new techology (those with long memories may recall an excitable discussion about virtual reality a decade and half ago).

They go on to make a point I have raised:

That means a consumer really has to want to buy a digital book reader. It might cost twice the annual book bill. So the only way that electronic readers will take hold among consumers is if they become a good way of reading other printed products, such as newspapers or magazines.

Couldn't have said it better myself... (Link)

The price of the Kindle is approximately $300. I would argue, rather than reducing ebook prices to $5.99 (versus print prices of $20) the pricing for the device should be similar to the razor blade/razor model. Even then I am not sure the model would work. Why? Because most readers don't read that many books. Most of the readers of publishing blogs like this one, O'Reilly Radar and those with a publishing audience represent a skewed view of the appeal of reading. We all love it and we all do a lot of it. Regrettably, the rest of America is not like us and on average the average book buyer will read less than 3 books per year. (Research studies note that even 'book buyers' are a small group).So aside from early adopters and techno-fadists who flocked to acquire the first Kindles who will buy the next batch? If the average reader buys three books a year for a total of $90-100, why would they buy an ebook reader for $300 even if those three books were free? Your average consumer is not a dummy and can do the math.

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