Why war on e-books by way of price gouges—when readership of e-books has dropped far less than readership of paper books? E is the future. Total book sales will improve if the Big Five publishers stop the Luddite act.
That’s the message I sent major publishers fixated on protecting their p-book-oriented infrastructure.
Now here’s another statistic for them to chew over. A whopping 68 percent of all U.S. adults now own smart phones, according to Pew Research, and people in the 18-29 bracket are up to 86 percent. The 68 percent for the general population will increase as the young push past 29, as Nate has observed.
So what does this mean in terms of books? Pretty obvious. Already most of us potentially carry around a bookstore and reading room open 24/7. And as younger people age, they may well retain their habit of buying and e-books reading on smart phones—if need be, from independent publishers if the big boys keep gouging.
If in time the young people’s eyes require something bigger than typical phones, well, manufacturers can oblige with products such as the Blu Studio 7.0 LTE. It offers a seven-inch screen, goes for $200 and is already sold out at Amazon. Welcome to the era of the phablet or maybe the phablet+. Oh, but do you notice? A video, not an e-book, is visible in Blu Products’ photo of the 7.0 LTE. If B5 publishers continue their e-book price gouges, the percentage of book-reading Americans will not go up to the extent it optimally could—given all the competition from other forms of entertainment.
Meanwhile Pew reports that only 19 percent of all U.S. adults own e-readers, compared to 32 percent in early 2014, but that’s hardly a shocker when you consider that so many Americans are reading instead on phones and tablets. The same would be true in other countries.
Other causes of the dedicated e-reader slowdown could be the industry’s reduced innovation and such backwards steps as the removal of text to speech from E Ink Kindles. That’s not all. As TeleRead Associate Editor Paul St John Mackintosh has written, some of the wounds are self-inflicted in the case of dedicated e-readers. Amazon is replacing them with dedicated tablets that will jack up the company’s revenue by allowing media consumption of all kinds, not just of books.
Detail: If the B5 don’t rescind the gouges, then perhaps small publishers can at least help fill the gap.