Missing the point

This article, about the false forecast of the demise of the book makes some good points but draws the wrong conclusion on this one:

After years of sales growth, major publishers reported a fall in their e-book sales for the first time this year, introducing new doubts about the potential of e-books in the publishing industry. A Penguin executive even admitted recently that the e-books hype may have driven unwise investment, with the company losing too much confidence in “the power of the word on the page.”

The ebook, unlike the audio book or TV is simply a different method of delivery. You still read it. Similarly the 78 vs vinyl vs CD vs MP3 is simply a change in delivery method, you still listen on headphones or loudspeakers.

The reality is that traditional publishers don’t quite get ebooks. They price them too high, supermarket discount prices are often lower or similar to big Six ebook prices. They miss out on the idea of entire catalogue forever. They have no near monopoly (the Big Six). Paper books compete for shelf space and if they don’t sell in a few months then they are remaindered and pulped.

In fact it’s only the traditional publisher’s share of ebooks that’s falling. The market may now equal printed paper and is growing. Independents and Self publishing Authors do “get it”. Instead of relying promoting 1% of the catalogue with expensive advertising and then going “out of print” if demand falls, the real eBook “publishers” rely on word of mouth. It costs nothing to be on the virtual shelves of effectively unlimited size of Amazon, Smashwords, Apple itunes/ibooks, Google Playstore and others. Anyone can have a website for under $100 a year using Paypal for ecommerce.

So why are the traditional publishers not pricing at $3.99 and working to put their entire catalogues on line. Why don’t they have their own websites too as well as Amazon?

Don’t base ebook popularity on Kindle or Kobo sales, though these give the experience closest to a paper book. The most popular reading device is the smart phone, followed by tablet. The eInk based Kindle or Kobo while best are a long way behind in 3rd. The laptop / PC is far behind at 4th, used hardly at all.