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E-Books Are Only 6% of Printed Book Sales

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-fool-me-project-gutenberg dept.

Books 437

An anonymous reader writes "MIT's technology blog argues that e-book sales represent 'only six pecent of the total market for new books.' It cites a business analysis which calculates that by mid-July, Amazon had sold 15.6 million hardcover books versus 22 million e-books, but with sales of about 48 million more paperback books. Amazon recently announced they sell 180 e-books for every 100 hardcover books, but when paperbacks are counted, e-books represent just 29.3% of all Amazon's book sales. And while Amazon holds about 19% of the book market, they currently represent 90% of all e-book sales — suggesting that e-books represent a tiny fraction of all print books sold. 'Many tech pundit wants books to die,' argues MIT's Christopher Mims, citing the head of Microsoft's ClearType team, who says 'I'd be glad to ditch thousands of paper- and hard-backed books from my bookshelves. I'd rather have them all on an iPad.' But while Nicholas Negroponte predicts the death of the book within five years, Mims argues that 'it's just as likely that as the ranks of the early adopters get saturated, adoption of e-books will slow.'"

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price (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33681736)

There's no justification for novel fodder ebook prices as they stand. Put them down to $1 each and they'll take off like mp3 players.

Re:price (4, Insightful)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681780)

The very reason ebook prices are so high is because publishers won't let Amazon drop them further, as that would cannibalise their book sales in which they get much larger margins.

But, I doubt ebooks will ever replace books completely (at least in the foreseeable future). Books will be around a lot longer than CDs, DVDs, BDs, and many other such media.

Re:price (5, Informative)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682020)

The very reason ebook prices are so high is because publishers won't let Amazon drop them further, as that would cannibalise their book sales in which they get much larger margins.

This NYTimes article [nytimes.com] broke down prices of ebooks -- showing that a $10 ebook nets them about as much profit as a $26 hardcover [nytimes.com] . It goes on to suggest that they're keeping prices high to slow down adoption -- their whole infrastructure is built around dead-tree books right now, and they fear they won't be able to adapt fast enough to scale down their own DTB-related costs. I suspect though, that when they do figure out how to scale down, they'll be just as happy keeping the prices high.

I'm a happy owner of a Nook. The only faults ebooks have right now is that even basic typesetting is almost entirely non-existent on them. Things that could be done automatically by the ereader -- things you don't realize you want until you don't have them, like paragraph-optimized justification, automatic hyphenation, preventing lone paragraph lines on page boundaries, hanging punctuation, and ligatures -- aren't there. Ebooks are displayed either with left-aligned text or with an obnoxiously-spacious justification.

It's the model, not the price! (4, Interesting)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682050)

I agree, to an extend. The real thing the publishers fear is the loss of control. On Amazon's ebook store, there are many self-publishing authors there. Publishers get zero for their books. If this were to catch on, the major publishing houses would die. So, they do everything they can to marginalize the ebooks. Now, it's true that many self-published authors aren't worth reading...but there are several that are, and who I enjoy. But ultimately? The candle-makers guilds did not stop the lightbulb, and the buggy-whip makers did not stop the automobile. Both these industries still exist, but in very different, and much smaller, forms than they did before.

Re:It's the model, not the price! (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682140)

This is very similar to music, video games, movies, entrepreneurship, etc. Publishers won't die in any of those(or venture capitalists for entrepreneurship) because people still need money up front to do these things. Some big dogs/right-place-right-timers will manage to find a way out of this(like Valve to an extent, eventhough they still have publishing deals), but when doing this is your full time job, you need income to cover your costs until it's published and successful.

Re:price (5, Insightful)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682168)

a $10 ebook nets them about as much profit as a $26 hardcover

That doesn't come as a surprise. The paperback version of a book is often cheaper than the ebook!

Re:price (2, Funny)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682430)

BOOKS RULE. Tech pundits drool.

Amazon's used books section contains some incredible deals. You can often find reference works and fiction for $4.00 (1 penny for the book and $3.99 shipping).

You never have to justify your alignment with a paper book.

Haven't had to "justify my alignment" since about 1992, back in the AD&D days.

BTW whoever formatted all those Gutenberg etexts in that annoying tiny bold italic font... FUCK YOU.

Re:price (3, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682288)

I also own a Nook. I've been very happy with it, but I've always been a heavy reader. That said, I do believe that ebook prices are outrageous. I don't think anyone would really argue that they aren't. The publishers need to wake up, lest they find themselves in the same boat that the music industry did when Napster blew up.

Re:price, but why ebooks not paperback? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682364)

sorry, but I don't WANT a hardcover. Or an eBook.

I just want a nice cheap paperback.

Re:price (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682534)

I suspect though, that when they do figure out how to scale down, they'll be just as happy keeping the prices high.

And maybe raise them, citing lost profits due to libraries... I mean quiet pirate dens.

Re:price (3, Interesting)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682092)

When E-books cost MORE than some hardcovers of course they don't sell. Put them back under $9.99 and I'll stop torrenting and begin purchasing again! The publishers are trying to use E-Books to support their print overhead - and have said as much. MacMillan and others are thieves so far as I'm concerned. As soon as they began setting prices vs Amazon the cost of E-books went through the roof. that they try to make them sound like a bargain because they cost less than LIST hardcover even though they cannot be traded, shared, or sold is a sad sham. some authors are starting to go it on their own and skip the publishers altogether - I wish some of the authors *I* like would do that. You know it's sad when a published author makes MORE money going through Amazon direct and selling for a pittance than they do going through a publisher!

Some reading:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsiders.html [antipope.org]
http://www.teleread.com/drm/macmillan-ceo-tells-his-side-of-amazon-spat/ [teleread.com]
http://blog.macmillanspeaks.com/ [macmillanspeaks.com] Make sure to read ALL of the entries in this one - there are some truly stunning doozies! I wonder what planet this moron comes from?

What? (5, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681740)

I thought E-books were by definition not Printed Books.

Re:What? (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682096)

My thoughts exactly. Not sure why this has been modded as offtopic.

Re:What? (1)

daenris (892027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682304)

Not sure either... that was exactly my first thought upon reading the title as well. Luckily it's just a really bad summary title, the article itself doesn't make the same mistake.

Zero percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682258)

Agreed. They should correct the title.

eBook pricing (5, Insightful)

jmlowes (539000) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681748)

Ebooks will not be able to beat out paper books until prices come down. People are cheap and don't want to spend more for an eBook than the mass market paperback version. Drop eBook prices and watch them take off.

Re:eBook pricing (0, Troll)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682022)

I'm a person, and I'm willing to do that.

Re:eBook pricing (4, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682024)

Lower prices, and a decent reader for less than a hundred bucks. It's a lot easier to rationalize buying books at ten bucks a shot, than it is to get them in a cheaper electronic format and plunk down for a perceptibly expensive socket to read them with.

Re:eBook pricing (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682354)

Fry's had two Sony readers on sale this past week, one of which was $99 (Not sure of the model #). I picked up the PRS-600 touchscreen model for $129. It's box had three price tags on it. $299, $199, $169. The prices on it dropped 4 times before my particular one was sold. Kindles are down to $139 now.

Reader prices are plummeting, I would imagine that by Christmas there will be several nice models available for less than $100.

On a side note, I typically despise Sony for their proprietary formats, but their ebook readers seem to be the most open. They support epub and pdf out of the box. I've loaded several 1,500+ page tech manuals on mine so now I can carry around my reader instead of thousands of pages of books or having to fire up my laptop.

Re:eBook pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682046)

Don't forget DRM. I know I'll still able to read a book in 3 years, but what about when my iWidget stops being able to access the license server/dies and takes my license copy with it/I forget my password/whatever

Re:eBook pricing (2, Informative)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682298)

For all the reasons listed from parent on down I do not buy ebooks. I'll download and read from the Gutenberg Project. However, I will not spend money on a book that will, in all likelihood in the future, not be accessible as I'll be damned if I'll buy something twice. I'll not buy at all rather than have to buy twice as DRM history has taught us is very likely.

I like the tactile feel of reading a book and that direct sunlight improves reading conditions rather than destroying them. Plus, I don't like the idea of having to buy another piece of technology just to read. And, I like the ability to share books, buy used books, and give books away if I so choose without having to jump through artificial hoops. As far as I'm concerned, until all those issues are made right I will not buy ebooks.

Re:eBook pricing (5, Interesting)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682178)

They WERE lower and then Apple cut a deal with the publishers to allow the PUBLISHERS, not the retailers, to set pricing. They then beat Amazon over the head with this deal and forced Amazon to capitulate. Overnight book prices for E-books in many cases were changed to be HIGHER than hardcover sale prices. The publishers tell you this is a deal though because it's still lower than hardcover LIST prices - who buys at list?! Retailers still set those prices! Want to know when you're getting boned by a publisher? Look for "This price was set by the publisher" on the sales entry.

When this occurred I went from buying multiple books a month to torrenting them - I haven't bought anything other than a Sci-Fi subscription to a magazine in MONTHS as a result of this bullshit. When they bring back $9.99 pricing I'll start buying, until then - fuck 'em. I can't resell, trade, or give away an e-book like I can paper. I no longer want paper books in my home either - I have too many as it is! grrrr!

shouldnt ebooks be 0% ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33681752)

shouldnt ebooks be 0% ?

Re:shouldnt ebooks be 0% ? (1)

bigpet (1695756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682510)

Why does he get voted down?
I'm pretty sure eBooks make up 0% of PRINTED books sold.

I agree, but (5, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681754)

It is difficult to argue with the meteoric rise in ebook popularity. I'm an ebook insider, and I still buy mostly physical books. But customers really are demanding ebook version of many books. And pretending that the trend towards ebooks doesn't exist is unrealistic. I might start and stop in fits but I think the writing is on the wall (or display).

Re:I agree, but (2, Interesting)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682010)

This is a crazy idea, but maybe people like both? I prefer books on my Kindle but I'm not going to avoid a book I want to read because it's not available -- I'm going to get it from the library. Maybe that's not the solution that reluctant publishers want to hear, though...

Still, I agree that I'm not sure what the point of this original post is. A new technology doesn't sell as well as an equivalent, older technology? I'd argue that books are a bit different from movies or music in that books actually physically contain the story -- there's no extra layer of technology involved in enjoying them. That's probably never going to go away, unless paper becomes precious (in which case we have a lot of other things to worry about!). For those with a little extra money who prefer e-ink, though, why not sell them an e-book version of a story? A publisher should see each sale as pretty much the same thing.

Re:I agree, but (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682076)

There will probably be a market for both types, especially since there is a difference between paper books and ebooks. Some people read in bed and if you drop the book the worst that can happen is that you need some tape but if you drop your reader you may need a new one.

And a paper book doesn't need any batteries, which means that you can use it everywhere.

But for some reading the ebook may be an alternative. And there will be an overlap where the media doesn't matter.

As a Kindle Owner (5, Informative)

Tragek (772040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681792)

E-Books still aren't there yet. When an E-Book as as convenient, as cheap, and as trouble free as real books, then we'll see e-books take off. But I think they've still got a way to go. Prices need to come down, the devices themselves need to get better (more durable, longer battery life, cheaper) and the software inside them needs to get much better.

Speaking only from owning a Kindle, the limitations on display imposed by are sometimes infuriating: Limited type choices, no ragged right, an orgamizational system which doesn't scale past 100mb of material, let alone the two gigs that comes onboard, (Why people moan that the kindle is not expandable I'll never understand. Aside from a wikipedia dump, who needs two gigs of text on the go!). PDF Support needs vast improvements (why, god why do you let me zoom, but only to the scales you chose for me... which are always way too wide or ten letters too narrow on academic papers?)

Annotations for academic work are important, and on the impotent keyboard they give you on the kindle, good luck. HIghlighting is slightly better, but still painful.

Having ranted though, I have to say, I still love my kindle, if for no other reason than receiving my news paper every morning electronically, combined with Instapaper for long articles.

The devices have amazing possibility, but until they improve, they won't kill the book.

Re:As a Kindle Owner (3, Insightful)

Tragek (772040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681818)

And I have to add, nor do I want them to kill the book. I love my books, I love owning them, I love reading paper books. But e-books have a super leg up when it comes to portability. I can carry the three books and the newspaper I'm reading in 8 ounces, or I can carry a pound and a half of paper.

Re:As a Kindle Owner (2, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681946)

But e-books have a super leg up when it comes to portability. I can carry the three books and the newspaper I'm reading in 8 ounces, or I can carry a pound and a half of paper.

And can you lend out one book without having to hand over the Kindle and subsequently your entire library?

Re:As a Kindle Owner (1)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682038)

Much like DRM was removed from iTMS, I'm hopeful the same will happen with Kindle, or at least some sort of reasonable borrowing mechanism.

Other than that, you and GP are talking different purposes. Your issue is book lending. GP (and my) issue is portability.

Re:As a Kindle Owner (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682104)

Nope. But then again, not one of my ebooks has failed to come back to me because the bastard I lent it to moved out of state.

Re:As a Kindle Owner (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682488)

I believe Edward James Olmos said it best: "You don't lend books."

Re:As a Kindle Owner (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682202)

Well, you can also strip the DRM off of the Kindle book and share to as many friends as you want but frankly it's a hassle...

Re:As a Kindle Owner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682512)

"When an E-Book as as convenient, as cheap, and as trouble free as real books,"

I call BS.

Cheap--I always purchase books new. Every ebook I've been interested in lately has been available in ebook format, and cheaper than the print version. The exceptions I've seen so far are O'Reilly and Penguin (subsidiary's welding book) who fix their ebook prices (although O'Reilly has multiple formats and DRM free offerings).

Convenient--I have 2 DXs, and the Kindle app on a laptop and my desktop machine. I can be anywhere and access the books. The books on the app are in color. Including a couple manga (wish more manga was out though). Hell, just for my Japanese language books, which I've actually bought a few of the actual copies despite having a Kindle copy, it's 5 inches of material, and can only have in 1 location. Versus 4, including the car if I opt for it.

Quite frankly, it's great having a DX while welding. Versus the paper version. Yeah, the DX could go up in flames still and melt, but sometimes having a $300+ device nearby makes you think where you place your manuals and information.

And the PC app is fast. Even on the DX, you learn little tricks like remembering title headers and simply jump to it fairly quickly over dogearring a physical book or flipping to it. Sometimes this helps remember the subject matter better too.

Trouble free--I'm at a loss here. What trouble have you run into? The only one I could see is not charging the batteries.

Most of the rest of your post rails against the Kindle as a device. Some of them are valid, but not as arguments for physical books. Nearly all are worse or non-existent when physical book copies are present. It's not as if you can pick your text type on a physical book. The Kindle gives you text sizes, which no physical book has (works great for me when I'm tired). And justification is dependent on the book publisher too when dealing with a physical book, although I agree with you that the Kindle needs better management than what they have now (and it's stupifying that such simple things they haven't fixed).

The only thing I've seen better with real books goes along with annotations and highlighting--but I never mark up my books (I used to keep separate papers for markups included with the book). I can search on my Kindle faster than I can with any physical book (which has saved me HUGE amounts of time).

And you're seriously complaining about a keyboard, as a strike against physical books? btw, I like the chiclet keyboard. The only thing I don't like is Amazon refuses to map the upper level of keys to numbers during the location search (which can only accept numbers anyways), causing the user to still hold down the alt key.

Wrong title (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681808)

The title should be, "Holy crap, an entire 6% of books sold are eBooks."

The vast majority of the reading public doesn't own an ebook reader. The vast majority of people say things like, "I like the feel of a paper book, I wouldn't want to read a novel on my computer." The fact that, despite the relative novelty of the medium, and endemic resistance to ebooks, they've already captured a sizeable percentage of the venerable book market says quite a bit about the future. And frankly I'm surprised.

Re:Wrong title (1, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681860)

And there is high demand for more.

It's just plain wrong that in 2010, there isn't an eBook version of every text book. I would buy a kindle for my 11 year old son if I could gt all his texts on it. Kids these days carry around 20+ pound of school crap all day long. When I was in high school, I never even owned a back pack.

Wrong weight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682056)

Ah but he's a geek. Carrying all that weight will be the only exercise he gets.

Re:Wrong title (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681912)

Seconded. It's pretty impressive considering how much of a place paper books have had in most people's lives, and throughout history, I certainly didn't expect eBook penetration to be so high anytime soon!

I bought an eBook as a test on Android recently, then was pretty annoyed to find out there's no official Linux Kindle client, and the Windows version doesn't even work in WINE.. come on Amazon, you can do better than that. I don't want to read the whole of the book on a 5" screen..!

Re:Wrong title (1)

microbee (682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681980)

Yeah, WTF, 6% already?

Re:Wrong title (2, Informative)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682068)

>The title should be, "Holy crap, an entire 6% of books sold are eBooks."

Yep. I was going to post something to that effect, but you said it all.

Or you could even say "'Sblood! 6% of book sales are lost to eBooks!"

Re:Wrong title (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682294)

I'm going for my masters. The program I'm enrolled in is a new one for the University I attend and as an incentive to enroll they are offering free e-books to those who are in it. As a tech geek I thought this was going to be awesome. "Look tech!"

Well, I fucking hate the e-books aside from their price. I really thought I'd love to search functionality but I don't. It's no better than me printing the chapters out and scanning the pages manually. While this has a lot to do w/the software used for the e-book, I still just can't imagine that I'd be doing it "the new way" even if I had a hand held reader.

My limited use of a hand held reader has been met with mixed emotion. I think they're slick devices but I don't like the cost of them, the cost of the e-books, and I certainly don't like the lack of a second sale+. When my e-books can be browsed for and purchased at a local bookstore for less than $1 then I'll be more interested.

YMMV.

Re:Wrong title (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682656)

Personally I simply find reading on ebook readers hard on the eyes, and difficult to maintain focus. It doesn't 'feel' right when handling the readers.

6% is actually very, very high. (1)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681820)

E-Books Are Only 6% of Printed Book Sales

Pretty remarkable considering that e-books aren't technically printed ... Painted? maybe. Rendered? perhaps. Printed? only if it is flat text with no formatting info.

Re:6% is actually very, very high. (1)

genrader (563784) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682214)

Reading comprehension? It means e-book sales are only 6% of printed book sales. So many people commented making the same mistake you did, I couldn't believe how many people struggled to understand that LOL

Five star reviews are mostly bogus. (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681834)

Millions of people are already reading on Kindles and Kindle is the #1 bestselling item on Amazon.com for two years running. It's also the most-wished-for, most-gifted, and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon.com.

Let me start with this; I knew someone who was close to an author (she will go unnamed) and whenever the author published a book, I was always encouraged to go up to Amazon and write a review.

I'm trying to find the original article, but a year ago Dow Jones reported that online reviews are inflated - people are way too nice.

In my experience with my own purchases, five star reviews are horribly misleading and inflated. And many times, I think they're written by shills. I now go to the 1 star reviews first (ignore the user errors and the folks who didn't like the shipping) and go up the ratings and ignore the fives. Apparently, some shills are writing 4 star reviews. Fortunately, the shills are kind of easy to spot - I'll leave that up to you figure it out - I don't want to make my buying harder than it is.

Re:Five star reviews are mostly bogus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682408)

I look for long reviews and repetition of specific points across reviews. One good review or negative one doesn't sway me. Shill reviews tend to be short and vague.

Re:Five star reviews are mostly bogus. (2, Insightful)

hahn (101816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682642)

Millions of people are already reading on Kindles and Kindle is the #1 bestselling item on Amazon.com for two years running. It's also the most-wished-for, most-gifted, and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon.com.

Let me start with this; I knew someone who was close to an author (she will go unnamed) and whenever the author published a book, I was always encouraged to go up to Amazon and write a review.

I'm trying to find the original article, but a year ago Dow Jones reported that online reviews are inflated - people are way too nice.

In my experience with my own purchases, five star reviews are horribly misleading and inflated. And many times, I think they're written by shills. I now go to the 1 star reviews first (ignore the user errors and the folks who didn't like the shipping) and go up the ratings and ignore the fives. Apparently, some shills are writing 4 star reviews. Fortunately, the shills are kind of easy to spot - I'll leave that up to you figure it out - I don't want to make my buying harder than it is.

True if there are only a few reviews. However, when the reviews number in the hundreds or thousands and the ratio of 5 stars to 1 stars is like 20:1, I tend to believe the 5 stars. I do still read the 1 star reviews to see if the complaints are valid or if they're simply by someone who had some issue with Amazon support and decided to ding the product for it. But your point is valid. I do find that the 4 star reviews tend to be the most objective and helpful.

i would think it would be 0% (1, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681836)

E-Books Are Only 6% of Printed Book Sales

If you print an e-book doesn't it become a ..., oh forget it.

Is it just me? (2, Insightful)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681878)

Am I the only one who prefers reading real books?

I stare at a computer screen enough.
a
Ebooks are great for quick fact checking, but if Im reading 100+ pages I'd prefer a paper book. Its just easier on the eyes.
 
--
  Windows Media Codec Pack [softpedia.com]

Re:Is it just me? (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682064)

I agree with you -- which is why I have a kindle and do most of my pleasure reading on that. Could never read on a smartphone or laptop like so many slashdotters urge people to do here, I look at enough glowing squares at work, don't need to do it at home.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682148)

ebook readers like the Kindle or Nook are nothing like a computer screen. They use a reflective ink technology...very similar to a book, in fact. No backlighting = no eyestrain. That's the primary reason they aren't considered by most serious readers as "competing" with things like the iPad, which is a computing device you can read a book on.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682210)

True, for me it depends on the type of publication as well.

I definitely prefer printed versions for novels, other casual reading and art books. But for stuff like tech literature it's definitely great to have a digital version so you can copy the code examples straight from the source. And have you ever tried to Ctrl+F in a paperback?

Re:Is it just me? (2, Informative)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682230)

Strongly suggest you check out a Kindle - no not an iPad. the Kindle screen is as close to paper as you're going to get in a portable form right now. It's NOT backlit but can be read anywhere the light is good enough to read paper. It doesn't strain the eyes either - it's NOTHING like a computer screen. Give it a chance, you just might find that you liek it. I know being able to carry a few hundred books in my pocket sure is nice. Just be sure to review ebook prices first - right now they suck!

Re:Is it just me? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682700)

Paper is pretty portable... and I tend to only read one book at a time. Periodicals, of course, would be a different story, but I just do those online anyways.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

General Wesc (59919) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682628)

E-Books Are Only 6% of Printed Book Sales

Am I the only one who prefers reading real books?

Do you like reading math books?

Re:Is it just me? (2, Interesting)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682660)

Although I'm not big on reading novels, I much prefer reading on a computer monitor than on paper. The main reason is ability to rest my eyes by making the text really big and looking at it from far away.

I strain to read text in most books, and I find it harder to get the lighting right.

People want tangible, physical media (-1, Troll)

rjkimble (97437) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681902)

That's why they will buy LP's and CD's instead of these newfangled MP3's and other media from the upstart new media stores like iTunes. eBooks have no real future.

Oh, wait....

Schools Should Use Public Domain Books 4 Teaching (0, Offtopic)

HockeyGuy (1864828) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681926)

We could save billions of dollars every year on text books which are written by a handful of people, produced by 3 major publishers and printed overseas.

The cost for New School Books is a serious expense Public Domain Book can cut that cost and they are already available from Government Repository Libraries.

The Federal Government has spent millions of dollars developing all types of educational books. The State Department has books that teach foreign languages, there are books on basic and advanced math, science and almost every subject available through the Department of Education.
There is no need to redesign books on math every year the only benefit is to publishers.
With the availability of tablets, laptops and home computers or even computer labs at colleges the education of students in most core studies does not need high costing books.
Teachers should review what is available then offer changes and additions as part of their job.
Unfortunately many teachers are incompetent and can only teach out of a book. They do not know their subject or their students.

And our educational system is corrupt.

Different Metrics - Price, Units, Profit (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681948)

We have to remember that it is possible that, in the current market, due to markup costs, eBooks may be selling for less than they cost per unit.

The only metrics that matter to the consumer are price and utility.

The only metrics that matter to the writer are profit and control.

The only metrics that matter to the middleman (book publisher, distributor) are profit per unit.

We can't compare apples to oranges. We can't use Gross Sales Price, since many books sell for less, due to markdowns and returns in the distribution channel. We need Net price after costs, including tech support and returns, and capital requirements.

If we sell one eBook for $5 million but it gets copied electronically so that we make no other sales, and this electronic version reduces physical book sales by a larger amount (due to piracy), then we lose money.

Re:Different Metrics - Price, Units, Profit (2, Informative)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682278)

Bullshit. You can sell ebooks for less than $3 and make a profit. The overhead is WAY lower. Authors are starting to realize this and publish on their own and it scares the crap out of the publishing industry which is so stupid they actually use the cost of PRINTING paper books as an excuse to inflate ebook pricing!

Read this: http://blog.macmillanspeaks.com/ [macmillanspeaks.com] completely to see how far up their ass the publishers have placed their heads
and this: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] to see what smart authors are starting to realize!

Re:Different Metrics - Price, Units, Profit (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682380)

Why have any middleman?

I'd still prefer a paperback than any eBook.

I think it's more than 6% (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681956)

"The $40.8 million in e-book sales generated in July came within $20 million of the July sales generated by the nine mass market paperback publishers that reported results to the Association of American Publishers. The e-book gains also came in a month where all print trade segments reported a decline in sales."

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/44546-e-book-sales-jump-150-in-july.html [publishersweekly.com]

DRM (5, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681968)

I'd love to buy some e-books, but I don't want any of the DRM restrictions they come with. I can't sell an e-book online once I've read it, I can't give it away to a friend, I can't check out an e-book from the public library unless the publisher allows it, and often I can only copy my e-books onto a limited number of my own devices. While I expect e-books will someday become the standard for book publishers, I don't want to be part of that future unless and until these DRM issues are resolved. Publishers have little motivation to do so, which means I'll likely remain a technological dinosaur with respect to books and will never own a Kindle or whatever device has replaced it in the future.

Re:DRM (5, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682114)

The problem is that you're not enough of a sucker. The fashionistas ("early-adopters") will latch onto the latest gadget no matter what it is, how much it costs, or how many of their existing rights need to be sacrificed. iTunes is popular even though you have limited copying abilities, you have to make your own backups (carefully), you can't lend the tracks legally or easily, they are generally more expensive per track than a traditional CD, you end up not getting minor works by the artist because you only bought the hit single, etc. etc. With eBooks your books can be altered behind your back and even deleted without your knowledge or authorization. Some people are more than willing to give it all up just to have the latest cool toy.

Imagine, 50 years from now, a kid goes up to the attic and sees a Kindle with a cracked screen, broken navigation keys, and a dead battery. It is junk. Imagine the same kid in the attic uncovering boxes full of books, dozens of them, with pictures, diagrams, stories, plans, photos, etc. Which is the better outcome?

Re:DRM (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682424)

"Imagine, 50 years from now, a kid goes up to the attic and sees a Kindle with a cracked screen, broken navigation keys, and a dead battery. It is junk. Imagine the same kid in the attic uncovering boxes full of books, dozens of them, with pictures, diagrams, stories, plans, photos, etc. Which is the better outcome?"

Best example of the fundamental differences I've ever seen.

Re:DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682462)

If it is like my uncle's book collection from the 60s, those books will be crumbling yellow dust. Acid-free paper costs extra.

On the other hand, all the ebooks I own will still be around, because I either scanned them or cracked them. Amazon can only take back the books until I back them up, then they are mine.

Re:DRM (1)

sgage (109086) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682472)

"Imagine, 50 years from now, a kid goes up to the attic and sees a Kindle with a cracked screen, broken navigation keys, and a dead battery. It is junk. Imagine the same kid in the attic uncovering boxes full of books, dozens of them, with pictures, diagrams, stories, plans, photos, etc. Which is the better outcome?"

Beautiful! I was that kid in the attic, back in the 60's. What a world was revealed...

Re:DRM (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682724)

Nostalgia aside, the kid is more likely to find the e-book because it won't BE stuck up in the attic because it's size didn't justify shelf space in the house anymore.

Instead, he'll find the e-book on whatever the current technology is, and can read it there. And he'll find it a lot more readily. I know that finding something that was effectively "lost" (i.e. inaccessible) is a great feeling, but I think its even better to always have it accessible.

In a similar vein, I am quite happy that I no longer have to worry about photos stored in boxes that I rarely look at, have to worry about in case of fire, have to deal with when I move, etc. I just have digital copies that very little effort to copy onto backup media, new computers, etc. Maybe sad to lose that moment of "look what I found in the attic", but that is far outweighed by the enjoyment I get be having all the photos instantly accessible.

Same thing can apply to books.

Re:DRM (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682530)

I'm curious as to what you think the Kindle's screen is made of that it would be likely to crack...

Re:DRM (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682710)

Your arguments apply to all digital media. The entire Internet for example is exactly the same. Video, the same - even in analog format. Actually books aren't that easy to store and maintain either. They take up enormous amounts of space and are prone to mildew and rot.

You have a perspective which can be valid in particular circumstances but it isn't universal.

Re:DRM (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682290)

I hear you. Check out the torrent sites and look for the Python script that strips Kindle books of their DRM. Right now I'd agree things are a mess and the book publishers are making the RIAA guys look like Einstein!

Re:DRM (3, Informative)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682360)

I'd love to buy some ebooks, but I can't, period. That's right: many publishers will not sell me their ebooks because I do not live in the USA. Barnes & Noble for example are happy to ship dead trees to me overseas, but downloading is a no-no. And the selection in local stores is rather poor. Smells like DVD region hell, only much worse.

I'd rather not have books go away... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33681982)

I like the idea of ebooks and being able to carry around a library on my iphone, I don't want books to go away. I don't know of any DRM that prevents me from sharing paper, whereas there are plenty of restrictive digital formats. There's plenty of reasons that textbook publishers would like ebooks, though. They can charge the almost the same amount for an electronic copy, save on printing costs, and implement DRM to stifle the used books business. There are good things about ebooks, but there's a certain freedom about paper that I prefer.

Yes but (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681994)

it is the BIGGEST 6%. All those other sales figures mean nothing in the face of a new technology wave.

And the thing is, this is both ironically sarcastic, and sardonically true.

Re:Yes but (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682130)

And the thing is, this is both ironically sarcastic, and sardonically true.

...and more or less ridiculous.

RPG Books (3, Informative)

deinol (210478) | more than 4 years ago | (#33681996)

I am liking the trend (started primarily by Paizo) of role-playing companies that give Print + PDF bundles for their books. I love having access to reference PDFs on my laptop. When regular ebooks start coming bundled with hardcovers or at a more reasonable price, they will definitely take off. As it is, who wants to pay more than a softcover price for a novel?

No surprise with DRM (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682004)

Lots of factors here. I know I won't buy a book while it's tied to a machine or even several machines let alone the installation of the operating system on a machine. I know I'm not the only one. I suspect that's a huge factor. It isn't reasonable that if I lose or damage my reader, my entire library is wiped out. Is it any wonder that if people are asleep reading in bed or reading in the bath or on the toilet that they don't want to risk an expensive device AND their entire library whereas risking a single paperback or hardback book is acceptable? Imagine rolling over in bed and killing not only your poor reader but $5000 in books. Stuff that for a joke.

Re:No surprise with DRM (3, Interesting)

cduffy (652) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682108)

It isn't reasonable that if I lose or damage my reader, my entire library is wiped out.

I can't speak for all vendors, but Amazon doesn't do it that way -- the library remains on their server, available for redownload. Same for the audiobooks I listen to on my commute.

Granted, that's at their mercy -- if they took that option away today all I'd have would be local backups of files tied to my physical device -- but it's not as bad as you make out. (Also, I don't buy most of my eBooks from Amazon; I buy my technical books mostly from Manning Publications, as unencrypted PDF).

Re:No surprise with DRM (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682496)

Granted, that's at their mercy -- if they took that option away today all I'd have would be local backups of files tied to my physical device -- but it's not as bad as you make out.

That is EXACTLY as bad as I make out. Vendors go out of business, and remove services all the time. I have books on my bookshelves at home that I've owned for 25 years. What are the odds your books will be on available on Amazon in 25 years? You're just renting them, and the rental period isn't even specified.

Re:No surprise with DRM (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682198)

That's the reason there are so many platforms you can store, and read, the books on. I have a Kindle. My books are on it. They're also on my iPod Touch, my PC using the Kindle for PC software, and if I had a smartphone, they could be there as well. You know what *I* don't want? A library of books that takes up seventeen book cases - and yes, that's what I'm up to at home. The majority of them are now boxed in the basement because I simply don't have room for them. But my Kindle? Doesn't seem to matter how many books I put on it; it's still under a pound. Hell, you don't even have to OWN a Kindle to buy and read a Kindle book. They're available to read on the Mac, PC, smartphone, iPod, iPad...

Re:No surprise with DRM (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682520)

I have books on my bookshelves at home that I've owned for 25 years. What are the odds your books will be on available in 25 years even with backups to multiple devices? You're just renting them, and the rental period isn't even specified.

If they were DRM free, it'd be a different story. Key advantages include not only storage space, but being able to carry the whole lot with you, and being able to search them.

Re:No surprise with DRM (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682618)

I agree.

I'm not one to buy a bunch of books, but until they figure out a way to DRM dead trees, I'm going to reach for the paper version every time.

The Book, The. (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682058)

It's going to be a multi-step program before I migrate fully to eBooks:

  1. When I can [sit on, drop, bend, fill in the blank] a [Kindle, Nook, et alia] AND not break it into uselessness.
  2. When I can physically write notes onto the page (not create some bookmark link that takes me to my notes).
  3. When prices become sane. Paper book prices are already completely ludicrous as it is. Why pay even more premium for electrons?

I'll take two out of three. However, I can't see the paper book becoming any more obsolete by the eBook than the radio was by the television. My wife wants a Nook and I would love to read the WSJ on one of these things, but it's just not 'there' yet for me. Maybe I'm a slow adopter.

6% sounds about right, but where the equilibrium? (5, Informative)

bdam (1774922) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682070)

I work for a medium sized book publisher and like many others we are scrambling to put e-books out. Six percent sounds about right, last year it was 4 and the year before that it was zero. From a publisher's perspective, we're still waiting to see how it all pans out. The suspicion is that this growth rate won't maintain itself and that there's a plateau somewhere. Where that is, no one knows, but no one that I know of in the industry is predicting any sort of e-book takeover in the next decade or two. So yes there's huge growth but no one's getting rid of their printers just yet. Publishers love e-books: no shipping, no warehousing, and most importantly no returns. Most books are sold to retail outlets on the basis that they can return them for a full refund if they don't sell. Since getting shelf space can boost sales you often see titles with an over 50% return rate. Also, for very little money you can take titles that are out of print or didn't sell well and put them out there. Titles once thought dead can now eek out a few extra sales.

Slashdot, please watch grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682082)

'Many tech pundit wants books to die,' That hurts my brain. Yes, it's a quote - put a [sic] in there so I don't want to smash things. In an article about book sales, no less. Thanks. --Yet another grammar nazi.

when I can use an eBook like a real book... (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682086)

...read it in the bath, drop it, write anything anywhere on the page, lend it to a friend, hold two or three pages open at once and see parts of all of them simultaneously, read it anywhere without worrying about becoming a target for thieves...

I'll still prefer the feel and longevity guarantee of a real book (how's that BBC Domesday Project reader getting on?).

The firm most likely to sell e-books still mostly doesn't, while every other bookshop on the planet sells almost exclusively real books. I am glad.

Books won't die. (2, Insightful)

equex (747231) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682112)

I don't spend my whole life near a store that sells batteries or power outlets. I travel by bus, train, plane. That's where I want books, because there it's useless to depend on any technology more advanced than. "Flip to the bookmark, read." Real books are just an amazing technology!

20 Minutes Into the Future (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682124)

Paula: What's that?
Blank Reg: It's a book!
Paula: Well, what's that?
Blank Reg: It's a non-volatile storage medium. It's very rare. You should 'ave one.
Paula: Stuff it!

Don't forget 1984 and Animal Farm (5, Insightful)

unjedai (966274) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682196)

With a paper book, no one is going to take it from you [slashdot.org] unless you get mugged, and then, what kind of mugger takes your books? Maybe I'll start spending money on ebooks when I'm guaranteed they're really mine. But that will never happen.

Re:Don't forget 1984 and Animal Farm (3, Funny)

Barny (103770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682318)

what kind of mugger takes your books?

Disgruntled literature students with no job prospects after 6 years of university (complete with masters, et al).

And converting all their books to ebooks, when they can't even afford a phone is going to make the problem even worse! Roving gangs of philosophy majors, terrorising honest people, breaking into homes, stealing and and all books they can get their hands on for the next "fix".

Amazon, you are an enabler, this is a terrible business model to work on.

I'm ready for them (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682690)

That is why I stocked up on crates of used Dan Brown books. Those literature majors will recoil in horror once I start pelting them with that mass market drivel.

500% growth in e-book sales in 3 years!! (2, Interesting)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682218)

3 years ago, ebooks were less than 1%. Now they're 6%. That's a phenomenal growth rate of 500%. The ebook market is exploding!! Buy some Amazon shares now while they're cheap!!

2c on ebooks (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682332)

Contrary to some other opinions around here - I have to say I love the convenience of reading ebooks on my phone. I catch the train to work and the volume of my reading has increased massively. Previously books were too bulky to slip into my suit pocket and I used to read a book once a month or so, now I'm finishing books once every couple of days.

Does this include... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33682404)

Does this include any of the used book sales?

Does it include free downloads of ebooks?

What about cheesily photocopied / pirated books?

Or maybe they are using hollywood accounting. (5, Interesting)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682418)

A while back, I wrote a book, Digital Audio Processing (Doug Coulter). Recently, Amazon has it as ebook form, perhaps without even informing my publisher, and certainly without telling me. It would stink without the code I copy-lefted on the CD that came with the paperback anyway. Though they sanitized the book of any way to contact me, my email address is all over that code which they didn't check. I've gotten emails from unique addresses in the ratio of about 20::1 over the sales my publisher claims. They are cheating, no question. Next time I will self publish and sell off my own forum or something, no point feeding those dishonest jerks any more. I now understand why Frank Zappa had such a hard-on about that whole business. They have reported zero e-book sales, but it's up there cheap. Pretty worthless without the nice code though, and I don't see how you get that off an e-book reader and into compilation, so it's a joke all around. At any rate, they make the RIAA look honest....just my $.02 worth, which is more than they've paid me after the advance. My opinion of those guys is unprintable, so I'll quit now.

"Only 6%"? (1)

PyroMosh (287149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682434)

Seriously? "Only"?!? "Only 6%"?

We are talking about an industry that only really had a chance to take off in a practical way for about four years (since Sony introduced it's first e-ink reader). This four year old industry has already taken a 7% chunk out of an industry that is roughly 500 years old (depending on how you define it).

Is it as rapid as digital-only (i.e. no physical media) music overtook CD sales? No. But on it's own, this number is astonishing.

There's a little bit of not-getting-it here (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682444)

From TFA:

And as for the death-by-2015 predictions of Negroponte, it's just as likely that as the ranks of the early adopters get saturated, adoption of ebooks will slow. The reason is simple: unlike the move from CDs to MP3s, there is no easy way to convert our existing stock of books to e-readers.

Yeah. Because that's how all those MP3s got onto our iPods. We, um... ripped them from our CDs.

One format is not enough (1)

woboyle (1044168) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682466)

I like ebooks for when I'm traveling or out of the house. I prefer hard-copy for when I'm in one place for awhile (home). I like Baen's practice of including ebook copies with their hardcover books. I can relax in my easy chair at home with a nice printed copy in my lap, cup of java on the side, yet when I am elsewhere I can take the ebook copy with me on my smartphone and continue reading while at the doctor's office, or wherever. So, I think comparing one format with another is illogical and invalid. Given an ebook costs nothing (or next to) to produce, purchasing a hardcopy book should, in my opinion, include a free ebook copy.

E-books are not purchased... (2, Funny)

iPhr0stByt3 (1278060) | more than 4 years ago | (#33682702)

Because ebooks are not purchased... they're stolen: http://dilbert.com/2010-09-18/ [dilbert.com]
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