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eBook Sales Outpace Hardbacks

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the sell-harder-son dept.

Books 247

dptalia writes "Amazon announced that for every 100 hardback books they sell, 180 eBooks are sold. In addition, they've seen sales for Kindles triple since they lowered the price. But traditionalists shouldn't panic yet — paperbacks are still the king."

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247 comments

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You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (4, Insightful)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964562)

Paperbacks will never die simply because once they leave the hands of the vendor they also leave the control of the vendor.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964600)

You say that as if there's an inherent reason why ebooks can't be handled in a similar fashion.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964638)

You say that as if there wasn't a reason why some/most can't be handled in a similar fashion.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964876)

No I didn't, I pointed out that you made a bad argument. The fact that most are handled in a DRM locked down fashion is not the same thing as saying they have to be. Saying that something like this can't be done is a high standard to meet, and you haven't met it. The reason why they do it is that they think it's good for them. That's not the same thing as have to, notice what's happened with DRMed music in recent years.

The conclusion doesn't follow from your premise. Just because ebooks are now restricted in that fashion doesn't mean that they necessarily always will be. Sure it's possible, but it definitely isn't the one to one correlation necessary to support the argument.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964736)

You say that as if there's an inherent reason why ebooks can't be handled in a similar fashion.

ebooks can be copied by the customers at zero cost and without loss of quality, unless DRM puts some limits to that. Copying of a paper book is possible, but it costs more than the physical book, considering equipment, software and time.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32964780)

Couldn't you just put your Kindle face-down on a scanner?

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964984)

The e-Ink displays work by reflected light. So they should photograph quite nicely. So why bother with scanner? Set a digital camera on a tripod, set it to take one picture per second. Click on the next button one click per second. Should be easier than scanner.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (4, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965250)

Guys, I'm not positive on this one, but I'm going to guess that maybe - just maybe - there's an easier way to crack an EBook's DRM than physically taking pictures of the screen (via scanner OR picture) from each page. That seems about as efficient as cracking your iPod's DRM by singing your friend the song yourself.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965488)

Woosh.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964828)

unless DRM puts some limits to that -

don't all amazon's books have DRM?

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965122)

DRM which is trivial to remove.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965228)

DRM which is *illegal* to remove. (In some countries, you mileage may vary)

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965556)

DRM which is *illegal* to remove.

To the extent its preventing illegal copying, so what? The copying is illegal, but trivial cost and effort to do without the DRM. The DRM is illegal to remove, but trivial cost and effort. Net result: with or without the DRM, the illegal copying is illegal, and trivial in cost and effort.

Where is the benefit of the DRM?

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965630)

Unless the ebook is protected by copyright, which it probably is. Copying an ebook for a friend is not the same as loaning or giving a physical copy to a friend. I have no ethical misgivings about breaking DRM in order to make copies for personal use. I do have a problem with breaking DRM for no reason other than to save money for your cheap friends. That is not intended as an insult. I'm cheap too.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965330)

Only one person goes through that effort, then everyone else who wants a digital copy will download it. Bookwarez is older than e-books.

It's like arguing against selling digital music or movies because it makes it easier to copy -- Yeah, it does, but ripping DVDs/CDs happens anyways, at least this way you have a chance of making money.

Wouldnt you rather let the people who want to have a digital copy be able to buy it, rather than forcing everyone to pirate it or go without?

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965424)

Copying of a paper book is possible, but it costs more than the physical book, considering equipment, software and time.

Not for much longer. If you have access to a print-on-demand machine, POD paperbacks are currently costing about the same as regular paperbacks retail(ie, no price difference if you are just printing for yourself). When those machines get to a desktop size, you'll probably be able to print them cheaper than you can buy them.

I wouldn't want to, myself. Not enough storage space, even if I pulped the ones I only read once.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965656)

When those machines get to a desktop size, you'll probably be able to print them cheaper than you can buy them.

No, just as with desktop printers, when the machines get to desktop size, the one-time cost of the machine will be more affordable, but the per copy production time will be longer and the per copy cost in consumables will be higher that what the large machines used by firms that do POD printing with a higher production volume use.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

fredjh (1602699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965742)

They can be but they aren't.

First, we're talking about new books, not classics that you can get for free from a number of sources, and that can be read by a number of different e-readers on top of free software you can download.

Now, you can take the illegal (in most places) action of removing DRM, but if you follow the guidelines you have very little freedom with e-books.

For popular books in paperback, you don't even save much money... the ONLY reason to buy e-books is for the convenience of carrying your library with you. And while you may save a dollar (not even that, for most of the books I was looking into), you lose right to resell or donate the book when you're done with it. Period.

I still decided to get two because there are some other benefits. First of all, it WAS convenient. Second, I bought them for my kids, and they are voracious readers, which I think it great, but they are only two years apart in school and read a lot of the same books (Guardians of Ga'hoole, now... a 15 book series), and with both devices registered to the same account, I buy a book once and they both get it.

Now that prices have dropped for Nook, too (thanks to Amazon for lowering their prices), I may get one for me. I've gotten tons of free new books, too, and all the classics I've ever been interested in (which is, granted, not that many in the grand scheme of things).

But loss of resale rights does bother me, and these devices won't last forever... I would normally save books forever to lend and even have grand-kids read them some day, which doesn't seem possible with these devices.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965036)

There are plenty of ebooks in the same state, they just don't tend to show up on sales figures... Arr matey, so to speak...

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965276)

There are honestly more to be had via that delivery method than the other too...

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965186)

the last time i checked used book prices on ebay they were so low that it made sense to throw the books in the trash or donate them to a library. no resale value unless it's an expensive textbook or some rare book. i sold a bunch of books years ago just for the feedback. after fees and shipping i broke even to my selling costs. and i lost a lot of time.

most people will buy ebooks because they can do it right away and not go to a bookstore

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965298)

Digital downloads of music will never outpace CD's, because once CD's leave the hands of the vendor they also leave the control of the vendor.
Wait, that happened.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965504)

True, but there's a lot of demand for purchasing 1 or 2 tracks of an album online, rather than buying the entire album via CD. I don't think the same could be said of most books ("Chapter 12 was a great read, but 8-11 were just filler.").

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965564)

They are talking about hardbacks, not paperbacks. Paperbacks probably still outsell everything.

Re:You cant hand an ebook to your friend... (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965712)

The Nook and I think the Sony ereader allow this. Even with the DRM, it allows you to transfer a book to a friend for a specified amount of time.

Goatse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32964576)

Best ebook evar [goatse.fr]

Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964578)

Printed books are only superior in possibly 3 ways, being able to trade them, being able to use them without electricity and being able to mark them up. Which is really only 2 ways, as anybody that enamored with them shouldn't be writing in them. Both of those can be dealt with, solar cells and fixing the DRM model.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (3, Insightful)

dylannika (1523113) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964674)

Printed books are only superior in possibly 3 ways, being able to trade them, being able to use them without electricity and being able to mark them up. Which is really only 2 ways, as anybody that enamored with them shouldn't be writing in them. Both of those can be dealt with, solar cells and fixing the DRM model.

Why shouldn't they be writing in them? My favourite books are marked up with my thoughts and insights. When I go back and re-read the books I can see how I've changed in my understanding of the book. I totally understand that I can mark up ebooks as well, but I'd be terrified that my notes would disappear from certain devices.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964676)

being able to trade them

No one trades book files, just like no one trades music files. Officially, anyway.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (2, Insightful)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964678)

Or water damage, or forgetting it on the bus/plane, or even damaged from something heavy landing on it.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964922)

Or water damage, or forgetting it on the bus/plane, or even damaged from something heavy landing on it.

You mean like a bus or plane?

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (2, Informative)

Kaziganthi (824129) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964722)

Some of the readers on the market allow you to "mark up" the books as well.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965788)

Odd feature I just noticed recently: if more than 3 people mark a passage in a kindle, it shows up on everybody's copy. It's optional, though.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964790)

My girlfriend is an English major, and reads maybe a book a week. I wanted to get her a Kindle, but she told me not to because she can't write in them; marking up the books is essential for when she goes back to write papers, so she remembers her thoughts at the time of reading. I use my tablet PC for my textbooks, and write in them using digital ink. I was looking forward to doing this on the iPad, but sadly there is not digitizer. (writing with your finger or a capacitive pen just doesn't cut it)

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965050)

You can mark-up and make far more notes on a Kindle than you could in most paper books.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965294)

I'm aware of this, but the response I got was it would be too slow, and it only accepts words, not drawings or scribbles. I think the bottom line was it didn't fit her reading style and she wasn't about to conform to it. A lot of the more traditional readers in my family feel the same way.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (2, Interesting)

AdamsGuitar (1171413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964806)

Or, of course, the fact that some people like the way a book *feels*. The way a page feels when you turn it. While simulated page turns are nice eye candy, an e reader doesn't provide the tactile feedback of a physical object.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964850)

It's also statistically shown that more people read paper books faster than ebooks.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (3, Insightful)

ezbo (1596471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965132)

It has, but the population was all of 24 people, all of which had never picked up an ebook before.....and they read for 20 minutes, hardly a book's worth. Also, they read the same text 4 times, no one knows how the huge selection of 24 people were chosen, and no one knows how old they were as yet. So no, not really.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965340)

It's also statistically shown that more people read paper books faster than ebooks.

Which means that eBooks provide more hours of value per book.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964998)

/* anybody that enamored with them shouldn't be writing in them */

WHAT? I'd say just the opposite. People that enamored with reading can usually be spotted BY the copious amounts of margin writing, note taking, highlighting, etc. People that are enamored by having "things" (and not the ideas they contain) are usually the ones that can't stand dog-earing and marking up. It might mess up that vintage first edition that might sell for $10 on eBay in 20 years...

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (3, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965046)

Power and DRM aren't the only problems. You also have to deal with the reliability and durability of the device. I don't want to have to buy a new one every 3 to 5 years because of a blown cap, an intermittent button, faded screen or some mandatory "upgrade" to accommodate a format change.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965288)

Which is especially interesting in combination with the DRM point. With DRM, you can never be sure your old books will actually be useable with the new device.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965392)

Well, the DRM problem ties into this too, but part of the problem too is how easy it is to lose an entire ebook collection. Sure, everyone should be doing backups (though backups are often difficult to impossible with DRM), but in reality most people don't. One hard drive or memory failure and your entire collection is toast. Or even routine maintenance. My sister had to send her MacBook in for service recently. The hard drive was fine. It was just cutting off sporadically and such. Turns out the motherboard was bad. They said they'd ship her a new unit. Problem was, all her files (digital camera pics, iTunes collection, etc) were on the old hard drive. Despite the hard drive being in perfect working order, getting them to give her back the hard drive from the original was like pulling teeth.

With physical books, sure, you have the possibility of something like a fire, but that's a much rarer event. I always feel that physical goods are "safer" than digital.

Plus - in 50 years - will there be any runnable software LEFT that will read these file formats? Once a file format falls out of favor finding modern programs to read it isn't always easy.

Re:Traditionalists shouldn't panic anyways (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965608)

Printed books are only superior in possibly 3 ways

Well, there's a fourth way: I just like them. *shrug*

I like them for the same reason some people pine for the days of vinyl: they're as much collector items, object d'art, as they are content to be read. I *like* having shelves stuffed with books. I like the way they look, the way they smell, the way they feel.

'course, I also read a ton of stuff on my PDA (since I'm too cheap to buy a dedicated e-reader). But I'll never go away from buying real, physical books, as well (I *really* wish publishers would start including a voucher with the hard copies, to buy a cheap electronic version, but that'd be, like, customer-friendly, which is hardly their goal).

Out of business (3, Insightful)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965666)

So, I have books on my shelf from the 1960s. Sure, they're old and tattered but still readable. What happens if Amazon goes out of business in 30 years and my Kindle is dead? What if I buy a Nook and Barnes and Noble goes out of business in 15 years? I can't really move DRM'd stuff over to another e-reader can I? Or is that something that we'll be able to do one day? I've always liked the durability of books. Sure, they can be destroyed but they are physical "things" - not bits stored somewhere.

NO they do not (5, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964604)

E-books outsell hardcover books at Amazon.

Amazon is the dominant ebook seller and pushes ebooks very hard.

Unless Amazon have nearly half the hardback market, then hardbacks still outsell Kindle ebooks in total.

Re:NO they do not (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965324)

The vast majority of books that I buy are not hardcover, they are softcover. I'd say that I purchase 20 softbacks for every single hardback.

Re:NO they do not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965396)

Try reading the summary at least. Once you do, your comment is meaningless. Next you are going to tell me Alice wasn't in a Wonderland.

Creepy Picture for the Story (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964616)

Anyone else a little weirded out by the WSJ image of Jeff Bezos trying to show you 1880s porn on his Kindle [wsj.net] ?

Re:Creepy Picture for the Story (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965052)

Anyone else a little weirded out by the WSJ image of Jeff Bezos trying to show you 1880s porn on his Kindle?

Yes, if you were able to see the whole picture you could very clearly see that the woman is showing her ankle in a highly provocative manner. Why, I've heard rumors of people using similar devices to show pictures of women posing completely hatless. It's absolutely shameful that this new "electronic book displaying contraption" is being used for such filth.

'tis a sad day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32964636)

Now corporate suits can decide what information society retains access to. If they want to "recall" a book, (for any reason) they can just delete it from your device remotely.

Re:'tis a sad day (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964862)

Amazon already did this once, ironically with copies of 1984 that they found out later the publisher did not actually have the rights to distribute.

Re:'tis a sad day (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965126)

People were lucky the book in question wasn't Fahrenheit 451 [wikipedia.org] or else their Kindle would have spontaneously combusted.

Re:'tis a sad day (5, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964936)

Not all devices. Sony's ereader, for example, has no remote access, and can be used entirely on an un-networked pc. Oh, and by the way, Amazon, when you're coming up on the wrong side of Sony on a digital rights disucssion on Slashdot, that should tell you something.

Re:'tis a sad day (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964986)

At least it's more environmentally friendly than just burning them [imdb.com] .

Who buys hardbacks? (3, Insightful)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964652)

I never bought hardbacks to begin with, but several hundred paperbacks adorn my shelves.

I would much rather lose a single paperback to either forgetfulness, water damage or a friend borrowing and never returning it that losing my ereader that way.

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (2, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964710)

I buy hardbacks when they're available but a lot of times I find that a book is only available as paperback. With a few books it even seems that while there are no new hardbacks being printed libraries are still able to get the latest edition as a hardback from somewhere, no wonder hardback sales are down when you can't even buy them most of the time...

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (5, Informative)

linear core (1692640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965554)

Actually, the answer to the library question is simple. Most libraries, especially university ones, buy special library versions of the books. They typically come in hardback, printed with special ink on acid-free paper. The upside is that the book will last, supposedly, much longer, possibly a couple centuries. With no acid in the book you also won't get that nasty breakdown you do with older books that turns the pages brittle and the covers all '60s techni-color. The downside is that this edition of the book costs around $100+ for something as simple as Dean Koontz's new thriller.

Otherwise, libraries typically buy the best quality edition of the book they can and rebind it in hardback. But there is a huge market for publishers making special library editions that aren't available to the public.

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964798)

This means you buy mostly fiction.

For nonfiction research hardbacks are completely the way to go. A shelf full of Trade Paper becomes a domino cascade every time you take 5 out of the 40 off the shelf.

I also just happen to like hardback for heavy fiction sets, like Tom Clancy.

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965460)

I used to buy my Clancy books hardback, but eventually decided it was cheaper to just take a shit on a piece of paper and then stick it between two pieces of cardboard.

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965000)

Exactly. If this article says anything at all, it's that Amazon sells amazingly little hardcovers.

Re:Who buys hardbacks? (1)

G'grandpa (1654849) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965386)

1) Hardbacks look better in my technical reference library. 2) Digital formats (non-proprietary) are best for textual or context searching. 3) Optimal solution is hardback in my library, and a searchable PDF on my hard drive. 4) Or, hardcopy (hardback or paperback) in my library and searchable copy on books.google.com

love it (4, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964680)

I love my Kindle. I buy about one book per week. It's gotten to the point where if a book I'm looking for isn't available in ebook format, I simply don't buy that book. I want my entire library available to me anywhere I go. I don't want to haul around dead trees.

The publishers who haven't released their books in ebook format are simply daft.

Re:Dollars and sense (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964916)

How much does the average eBooks cost for you?

I have a feeling a lot of this whole "outpacing" business is that hardcovers are simply more expensive, and some people are not willing to shell out when a softcover is available.

Publishers have started to make less softcover books and more hardcover so that when you want the latest book in a series, all that ends up available at bookstores is the hardcovers, all the softcovers sell out too quickly. They make that much more in mark up.

So - if an eBook (not the reader itself) is more affordable than a hardcover, I wouldn't be surprised if they started outselling.

Re:Dollars and sense (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965136)

With an about a 50/50 mix of books that were it not for the Kindle I saved the cost of the Kindle in less than one year. The savings came from shipping costs and reduced costs for the books. Admittedly I was ordering almost all of my pre-Kindle books from Amazon.

Re:Dollars and sense (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965278)

Well, the Amazon ebook store is a bit like Steam. Prices are a little lower, but delivery is faster and you get free "cloud computing" services (backups, available from anywhere, etc.), but on the downside, DRM stops you from reselling.

Of course, you can always use PDFs or .txt files or even HTML files on your Kindle, but only stuff you buy through Amazon has the CC service with it.

Re:Dollars and sense (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965430)

Usually when a new best seller first comes out, it will only be available in hardcover, so it's a little worse than simply not supplying enough paperbacks, they don't make them available at all. Think of it as the early adopter fee, if you're willing to wait 6 months you can get the same book in paperback for much less. That annoys me but doesn't really piss me off, yes you have to pay extra for a new release but you get a superior product in the form of a more durable hardcover. What pisses me off is when they charge $10 (or some publishers even $15 now that the courts decided they can decide pricing) for a new release eBook. Now you're getting the exact same product as someone who pays $5 a few months later, and it seems like many books stay at that price point even after the paperback versions are available.

Basically, if you want to see what's wrong with the eBook industry just take a look at this [amazon.com] .

Kindle price: 9.17
New Hardcover: 6.70

I shouldn't have to price shop between a purely electronic, zero marginal cost version and a hardcover version. Even assuming the problem is simply that they overestimated demand and now someone has a stock of hardcovers lying around they're trying to get rid of, the Kindle price should be adjusted to at most the lowest available hard cover price.

Re:Dollars and sense (4, Insightful)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965762)

The real problem with those prices is the publishers. Publishers don't view ebooks as a revenue stream, they see them as a technology that cannibalizes physical book sales. So, they don't price ebooks with the mindset that it is basically 100% margin--instead, they're thinking "how much of the cover price on a hardback or paperback am I losing on this deal?" And that is the basis for the ebook pricing. It makes sense if all you care about is preserving your dying business model.

Basically, publishers still don't take books seriously, and they price them as such.

Re:love it (2, Informative)

cervo (626632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965022)

I have a nook and my problem is that a lot of the technical books either don't have e-books, or they only have the amazon topaz format. So really I have no choice but to buy the hard copy...... Hopefully this will change. From what I understand Topaz format means the publisher pays amazon a small amount to scan the book into a format which can be re-flowed but isn't very good. And a full fledged mobi pocket/ebook requires more effort from publishers to make that format.

This is even true of "Coders at Work" which while not a technical book, would be fun to read. But I don't want to have it sitting on my shelf if I'm just going to read it once and probably not go back. Your choices are PDF or TOPAZ, none of which work that well on Nook. And even Kindle users complain about Topaz books not reflowing well. Of course if I had an iPad the PDF would probably be fine. So maybe for technical books iPad is the way forward... Still for reading fiction the Nook/Kindle/other eInk readers are pretty nice...

Re:love it (3, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965520)

I have a nook and my problem is that a lot of the technical books either don't have e-books, or they only have the amazon topaz format. So really I have no choice but to buy the hard copy...... Hopefully this will change. From what I understand Topaz format means the publisher pays amazon a small amount to scan the book into a format which can be re-flowed but isn't very good. And a full fledged mobi pocket/ebook requires more effort from publishers to make that format. This is even true of "Coders at Work" which while not a technical book, would be fun to read. But I don't want to have it sitting on my shelf if I'm just going to read it once and probably not go back. Your choices are PDF or TOPAZ, none of which work that well on Nook. And even Kindle users complain about Topaz books not reflowing well. Of course if I had an iPad the PDF would probably be fine. So maybe for technical books iPad is the way forward... Still for reading fiction the Nook/Kindle/other eInk readers are pretty nice...

Here's the big one that keeps me from moving to e-books.
Format wars.
As far as I can tell, a couple of the leading readers are ties exclusively to book stores, and each sells a proprietary format.
If there was one industry standard that all titles were available in, regardless of the supplier, then I'd be in more of a hurry to shell out for a reader.

And, to the point of the article, I don't think I have bought a hardcover if there was a paperback available (or scheduled to be available). The words are the important part. If I can have 3 paperbacks for the cost of 1 hardcover, why wouldn't I?

Re:love it (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965756)

The format war is really Amazon vs everyone else. Seems all the ereaders went with epub which is open, while Kindle when with Amazon's proprietary format.

Re:love it (4, Interesting)

pvera (250260) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965040)

We got two Kindles here, it is just too convenient to have the books available anywhere. With two of us in the house reading so much, we already had one wall covered with bookshelves and it was starting to get out of control (those things are dust magnets). Now all of our purchased eBooks are kept in a convenient location, we don't even have to worry about losing a book because the device fails.

Even if I forget the Kindle when I leave the house, I can use the Blackberry client and pull whatever I was reading. The flexibility I get outweighs any concern I may have had about DRM and lock-in.

Re:love it (2, Informative)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965110)

I bought a Nook from Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago ... the $150 price of the wifi version convinced me to give it a try. I have been pleasantly surprised at how nice the reading experience has been. There were times when I caught myself reaching up to turn the page, as if I was reading an actual hardcopy book. The page transition did take a little getting used to and it is a little slow at times, but those are minor issues for me.

I will still buy some hard back & paperback books, but for traveling and general reading eBooks are a perfect solution for me. I've also got iBooks on my iPhone and was pleased with that experience as well.

Re:love it (2, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965284)

*agree*.

I'm a bit wary buying something I'll want to keep for decades encumbered with DRM -- my preferred publisher for technical ebooks is Manning, who makes everything available in unencrypted PDF -- but I'm thinking of moving from a house with lots of bookshelves to a tiny little condo downtown. Only the very, very best of my dead-tree library can come with me, so electronic format for future purchases Just Makes Sense.

(I bought a Kindle DX due to the large-format screen and PDF support, but the lack of ePub support is unfortunate; if I were doing it again, I might think harder about an iRex).

Re:love it (2, Interesting)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965296)

I completely agree. The ability of an ebook to move to whichever device it's most convenient for me to read it on at the moment, be it my PC, iPad, Kindle, or Android phone, is really what makes the experience so worth it for me. When I first got my Kindle and the Amazon ebook selection was only around 200,000 titles, I often made exceptions when they didn't have a book I wanted and would buy the physical copy. However, the selection has increased so much since then that these days it just makes more sense for me to move on to a different title that is available in the format I want. Authors and publishers who refuse to release in a digital format are now losing about a sale to me about every other week.

Re:love it (3, Interesting)

N7DR (536428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965462)

The publishers who haven't released their books in ebook format are simply daft.

Or possibly they have read the contract that Amazon requires them to agree to in order to put content on their devices, and decided that giving all the rights to Amazon is not something that they want to do (I exaggerate, but not by a whole lot; basically the publisher gives up essentially all control of the presentation and distribution). Perhaps they are careful rather than daft.

Let's look at the real stats. (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964782)

US Book sales totaled $715.3 million in May 2010. Adult hardcover sales were up 43.2% from last year to $138.5 million. Softcover sales were down 2.2% to $110.7 million. Now, the important bit: E-book sales were $29.3 million (up 162.8% from May 2009). So, while Amazon may be doing a fantastic job of selling software for the Kindle platform, it's not yet indicative of the broad market. There's still a big battle ahead.

Re:Let's look at the real stats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32964852)

I'm not saying you are at all incorrect. Just pointing out that they are talking about units moved and you are discussing $$$s. Hardbacks are, in general, much more expensive than their e-book equivalents.

Re:Let's look at the real stats. (1)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965072)

True. This is just another window into the same sales environment (courtesy of the AAP). A hardcover doesn't retail for 24x the price of an e-book, so we can conclude that e-book sales still don't outstrp hardcover sales in the industry at large.

Natural fit for travelers (5, Interesting)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964784)

This is not at all surprising especially for travelers or those who have limited space but like to read many books. As military my PRS-505 allowed me to bring and entire library with me for the size of a small notepad to Iraq as opposed to a half dozen books. The reading experience was close enough to reading a paperback that it isn't worth mentioning except for a few purists.

The picture viewing and manga reading was also sublime. To me the pictures while grayscale looked like they could have been pencil drawn and were easily readable.

The ONLY downside I found was the screen refresh but it wasn't much more than turning a page and easily adapted to.

Re:Natural fit for travelers (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965014)

What format were the manga you were reading? I ask because I also own (and love) a PRS-505 but I've found some issues with image-based books (mostly lame scanned-jpeg pdfs).

Re:Natural fit for travelers (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965172)

I would get the .jpg or .png files and view them. It works well as long as they are intelligently named. If you can extract the jpegs from the pdf and view them seperately it should resolve you issue especially since you can zoom in if the screen sized image doesn't have enough resolution for you.

Re:Natural fit for travelers (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965664)

Cool, so you read them in the "Image viewer"? I'll have to check that out... Too bad the 505 doesn't support folder navigation but I guess that's where "intelligent naming" comes in. :)

Slightly misleading... (2, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964816)

Even if Amazon's selling 180 ebooks for every 100 hardcovers, not every one of those ebook sales was a choice between an ebook and a hardcover; many are a choice between an ebook and a paperback.

Obviously, ebook sales are still growing, but even limiting that number to just Amazon (which is naturally pushing the Kindle), it's still a little misleading.

Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32964824)

While waiting for a dental appointment several years ago, I read an article from some magazine that presented the hypothesis that one's speed in comprehending written language increase with the quality/resolution of the font. The general argument was low resolution computer text (this was back in the 320x200 days) takes longer for the eyes/brain to correctly recognize as compared to printed text.

However, the article also clearly acknowledged that as screen resolution increases, this will be less of a problem.

I think this has some merit, especially in light of an article posted to slashdot some days ago that stated it took longer to read an ebook than the printed counterpart. Until epaper hits 300 dpi, I don't think you'll see it seriously competing against the printed word. (I think the Kindle is halfway there at 150 dpi...)

On a side note, my second language is Japanese, and today's ebooks are still far too low resolution for many kanji character. You can read them, but they look like crap.

Re:Resolution (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965138)

The general argument was low resolution computer text (this was back in the 320x200 days) takes longer for the eyes/brain to correctly recognize as compared to printed text.

If you want to read fast then font resolution is not a major concern. Reading speed seems to be limited by eye movement, I remember a program I used a few years back which would display a text file word by word at a rate of several words per second, and I could read text very fast that way.

Which means that taking dead tree books and displaying them as text on pages on a computer is probably a pretty brain-dead idea.

Re:Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965260)

For certain characters, such as Chinese, font resolution is a *major* issue.

Re:Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965304)

The general argument was low resolution computer text (this was back in the 320x200 days) takes longer for the eyes/brain to correctly recognize as compared to printed text.

If you want to read fast then font resolution is not a major concern. Reading speed seems to be limited by eye movement, I remember a program I used a few years back which would display a text file word by word at a rate of several words per second, and I could read text very fast that way.

Which means that taking dead tree books and displaying them as text on pages on a computer is probably a pretty brain-dead idea.

I've actually head that the resolution on a device such as the Kindle is not as taxing on your eyes as reading on an iPad is (or other electronic device meant to be solely for reading). Does anyone know if this is true?

Los Angeles Telephone Numbers [telephonesleuth.com]

I hate the way paper feels. (5, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32964994)

I don't know about all this 'eReader' hub-bub, but personally, I miss the way parchment felt between your fingers. Yeah, I know everybody says the printing press brought literacy to the masses, but in my opinion, it's just another way for the Kings and Lords to control what us serfs read.

There was a time when you traveled from village to village meeting people and looking for new parchment you hadn't read before. Now, they print off 100 of something like it's no big deal, and hey, look, now everybody in the village is all up on the "bible" all of a sudden.

Re:I hate the way paper feels. (3, Funny)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965370)

Oh, stop with your new-fangled parchment. How is the writing going to survive the aeons if it's not carved into stone?

Re:I hate the way paper feels. (4, Funny)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965428)

Carved into stone? Are you mad? When we get driven from our lands by invading barbarians, what are you going to do? Load up the ol' cart with a few hundred tablets? Good luck.

That's why we use oral history. Sure, it eats up most of a kid's childhood teaching it to him, and he gets unhappy when we beat him for forgetting parts, but it's mobile. Plus, we can make as many copies as we want, just by speaking to other people. The StoneCarver's industry is just using this to make sure you have to pay them for every copy.

Re:I hate the way paper feels. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32965638)

"Oral history"? You "evolved" simians sure think a lot of yourselves. Why do you think anybody two generations from now is going to care what you think? Us chimps, we know how it's done. If something's important, you pee on it, so everybody knows it's yours. End of story.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go groom bugs off of my mate.

Call Bradbury to Revise Farenheight 451 (2, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965002)

Now all they have to do to ban all books is just silently delete them remotely from your kindle while you sleep. No firemen required.

And you'll have people in small camps living like vagrants reciting books to each other.

We've already got the wall-sized TVs blaring idiot-shows at us all day long, so banning books can't be far behind.

Never mind Orwell, we're closer to Bradbury's reality. Oh Montag, we need you!

Naahh, no need to revise... (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965214)

But the story became much much shorter : at the first autodafe the evil censors all died of toxic fumes inhalation....

ebook stores (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965020)

I think that if the ebook stores were more like book stores as far as selection and competition things would be a lot better. It is still very frustrating to have to hunt around several stores before finding one that actually even has a book I'm looking for. In some cases this means it is locked away in a drm store so I can't even give my money over for buying said book. That fact alone hinders in the sale of the devices since you don't exactly know which store the next book you want might go to. The model that the indie ebook stores have, where they try to have as many of the different formats for every book, is really nice. I also like the way the electronic library model is: you get a timed drm book to do with what you please, just check it out again to get more time. The problem with the library version is the same as the ebook stores, horrible selection. These are the real problems, and they come about because of exclusive rights caused by drm schemes.

Citation? (1)

milonssecretsn (1392667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965080)

"But traditionalists shouldn't panic yet — paperbacks are still the king." [Citation Needed]

http://xkcd.com/285/ [xkcd.com]

3 kinds of books now... (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965258)

hard cover, soft cover, and ebooks.

Each one has its best use. I don't use foreign language dictionaries much any more. But I still read Science magazine and New Scientist on paper, and I still buy biology books. Medical students have stopped carrying the bible-paper Merck Manual around in the pocket of their white coats.

Online newspapers have pretty much replaced paper -- my apartment building used to have stacks of bundled newspapers on the curb waiting for the garbage collector, but it's been replaced by packaging from Amazon shipments.

But there's something missing in online newspapers. A broadsheet page organizes information in a way that nothing can match. A friend of mine got two New York Times-sized LCDs, and reads it online in a two-page spread.

I'm sure there will be e-book readers that do everything that paper can do. I'd love to have a tablet with the color, size and resolution of the National Geographic, that I could write on. Not yet.

Hardbacks, eh? Paperbacks would mean something... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965478)

Amazon announced that for every 100 hardback books they sell, 180 eBooks are sold.

Since many print books are never even released in hardback, being released first in paperback (this is true both of technical books that are only released as large-format softcovers, and many novels, etc., that are released only as mass-market paperbacks.)

Wake me up when ebooks sell more than paperbacks, and when the numbers are overall in the market and not just from one particular retailer that sells both and has been heavily promoting ebooks.

E-books don't make economical sense to me (1)

flabordec (984984) | more than 4 years ago | (#32965586)

E-books don't make economical sense to me. For example: this book [amazon.com] , as of this writing the paperback version is $8.99 and it has the four books for the price of three promotion so if I buy four books (about one month's worth) it will cost me $26.97. I could also go with the kindle version and buy four books at $7.99 each or $31.96 and I'm not even getting something physical out of that transaction. It simply does not make sense to me.
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