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Have eBooks Peaked?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the amazon-sure-hopes-not dept.

Books 323

An anonymous reader writes "At Rough Type, Nicholas Carr examines the surprisingly sharp drop in the growth rate for e-book sales. In the U.S., the biggest e-book market, annual sales growth dropped to just 5% in the first quarter of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, while the worldwide e-book market actually shrank slightly, according to Nielsen. E-books now account for about 25% of total U.S. book sales — still a long way from the dominance most people expected. Carr speculates about various reasons e-books may be losing steam. He wonders in particular about 'the possible link between the decline in dedicated e-readers (as multitasking tablets take over) and the softening of e-book sales. Are tablets less conducive to book buying and reading than e-readers were?' He suggests that the e-book may end up playing a role more like the audiobook — a complement to printed books rather than a replacement."

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323 comments

Piracy! (3, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44525005)

It's piracy! We need to make reading a felony!

Re:Piracy! (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44525091)

It's piracy! We need to make reading a felony!

So, you think that's what they thought in the 1920's? "We need to ban alcohol to increase the sales"?

Re:Piracy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525275)

It worked.

Re:Piracy! (1, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#44525835)

Not really, alcohol consumption is suspected to have dropped by 30% due to prohibition (citation needed).

Prohibition lead to all sorts of problems for society, and alcohol really wasn't that bad. Certainly not bad enough that cutting its consumption by 30% had any notable impact.

Re:Piracy! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44525387)

I thought that it was implied that I meant reading the wrong things. I was half-sort-of-joking, since there was that piracy as a felony story the other day.

Re:Piracy! (1)

J3947 (2543110) | about a year ago | (#44525457)

Quick! Somebody put words in the publisher's mouth so that we can all laugh at them and feel superior! Aww, MightyYar, you beat me to it!

Re:Piracy! (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44525531)

Here's the reason I rarely buy e-books: A used paper book is usually cheaper. On Amazon a used book is often only $0.01 (plus $3.99 shipping). When I am done reading it, I drop it off at the local Goodwill, which then sells it on Amazon.

Definitions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525023)

I think the word you're looking for is "plateaued". Does no-one do calculus any more?

Re: Definitions (1)

dnadoc (3013299) | about a year ago | (#44525133)

And it's not "ebook sales", it should read "ebook rental license" since you don't own the ebook like you do an actual book.

Re: Definitions (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525409)

And it's not "ebook sales", it should read "ebook rental license" since you don't own the ebook like you do an actual book.

Which probably explains, in large part, why sales are plateauing.

Disappearance of E-Ink (5, Insightful)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | about a year ago | (#44525025)

Vendors are flogging tablets over E-ink; why get a one trick pony when you can have a multi-tasker.

Truth is, the one-trick pony feels much better on the eyes after reading for any extended amount of time. Staring at a backlit LCD just burns out your retinas, and changes reading from a relaxing experience to a tolerable situation.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525125)

They are talking about the sale of ebooks - not readers like nook or kindle. Tablet users still purchase ebooks.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (4, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#44525217)

Yes, but what you read it on greatly influences your experience.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about a year ago | (#44525541)

Just illustrated Edgar Rice Burroughs books off course!

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (0)

pegasustonans (589396) | about a year ago | (#44525173)

Vendors are flogging tablets over E-ink; why get a one trick pony when you can have a multi-tasker.

Truth is, the one-trick pony feels much better on the eyes after reading for any extended amount of time. Staring at a backlit LCD just burns out your retinas, and changes reading from a relaxing experience to a tolerable situation.

Exactly this.

Even the new Kindle Paperwhite is meant to be used with a backlight, increasing the likelihood of headaches and eyestrain.

Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where people just aren't informed enough as an aggregate to realize the advantages of non-backlit e-ink for reading.

The market demands tablets with outlandishly bright backlights, and companies provide them.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44525249)

It'll normalize when the tablet fad is over. Smartphones are better tablets than tablets are.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#44525407)

No in a hundred years. I tried reading a book on my phone, and it was a miserable experience. I see people on the bus doing it, but having to scroll constantly is very annoying. I like the form factor of the Nexus 7, if I could make it my phone and just use the bluetooth headset I'd be a happy camper.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about a year ago | (#44525687)

No in a hundred years. I tried reading a book on my phone, and it was a miserable experience. I see people on the bus doing it, but having to scroll constantly is very annoying. I like the form factor of the Nexus 7, if I could make it my phone and just use the bluetooth headset I'd be a happy camper.

There are readers that have the option to automatically scroll for you. If you can read an entire line without moving your eyes and have it scroll at the right speed you can speed read a book with less eye movement.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525459)

It'll normalize when the tablet fad is over. Smartphones are better tablets than tablets are.

I dunno, man - if I'm going to bother trying to read a document on a mobile device, I find it much easier to do with the Nexus 7 than my (4.5" screen) Droid X.

Maybe once they figure out the whole 'holographic screen projection' thing, or flexible OLEDs get to a low enough price point that it makes sense to build phones around them...

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (2)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#44525303)

As for the Kindle Paperwhite....I read that there is little difference between reflected light (off a page) and one coming from behind a page like paper white. Of course, you can do something like not have enough ambient lighting and it would be like staring at a (low powered) light bulb in a dark room, but barring that, why would there be eyestrain and headaches? Of course, there's no constant refresh rates of the text like a LCD screen, except for the backlights which all CFL/LED lighting is subject to. I assume people can read at night with energy saving lightbulb without too much bother?

The real reason to me to get a kindle over a table for reading is simply the weight difference. The tablets I held would be uncomfortable compared to a 6" kindle which easily weighs the same as or less than a fiction paperback.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

cruff (171569) | about a year ago | (#44525393)

The real reason to me to get a kindle over a table for reading is simply the weight difference. The tablets I held would be uncomfortable compared to a 6" kindle which easily weighs the same as or less than a fiction paperback.

Exactly. I recently picked up a Nook HD after B&N slashed the price. It is much heavier than my 2nd gen Kindle. So while the Nook displays color and updates the screen much faster, it is more wearying to hold for extended periods and is harder on my eyes than the Kindle for extended periods of time, and is almost unusable outside in the sun. The upside of the Nook is that I can view PDFs and web pages in a reasonable fashion, where those tasks are just painful on the Kindle.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525475)

The upside of the Nook is that I can view PDFs and web pages in a reasonable fashion, where those tasks are just painful on the Kindle.

Plus, considering the weight, it makes a much better cudgel than the Kindle. You know - just in case.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44525489)

As for the Kindle Paperwhite.... there is zero difference between reflected light (off a page), because the Paperwhite is not backlit. There's a diffuser sheet on top of the screen, and the built-in light reflects off the e-ink display the same as room light does.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44525765)

The Kindle usually has an advantage over the other tablets in battery lifetime. The kindle lasts for days, where a tablet lasts for hours. This is important if you don't live 6" from a power outlet.

e-readers, Paperwhite and Tablets (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#44525385)

I'll actually start with the Paperwhite, considering I own one. I rarely use the backlight feature and when I do, rarely at full. In daylight and full sunlight, it's completely unneeded and reading is awesome. Indoors as long as you have decent lighting, still not needed - same as a book. If it's dimmer, adding a little backlight can be nice just to get greater contrast, but it does make my eyes tired more quickly. However, whether that's the backlight, the general lack of ambient light, or the fact that most of those situations tend to be at the end of the day when I'm likely to be tired anyway, I can't really determine.

As for e-readers vs tablets.. e-readers were initially much cheaper and their very marketing prowess were the ease-on-eyes and the longevity of the battery (5 weeks into vacation, still haven't had to recharge my paperwhite), whereas the tablets were fairly bulky, pricey, with low battery life and not all that much you could do with them.
Fast forward to now, and tablets get reasonable battery life, are almost all thin and light enough to carry around casually, and cheap enough that I see people getting one for each of their kids to use in the car/etc. And adults, just as kids, don't use these tablets to read. Not because they're necessarily awful to read on, but because they find greater entertainment in playing games (candy crush seems popular around here, along with my singing monsters for those with ipads), watching movies/TV shows, or browsing (mostly youtube).

Personally I'd still love to see a best-of-both-worlds type display (I suppose velcro'ing an e-reader to the back of a tablet will have to do for now), but I suspect that most people would still be using the result mostly for interactive and video content. But at least if they wanted to read a book there's the eye-friendly display.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

Nicros (531081) | about a year ago | (#44525461)

Actually, the kindle paperwhite doesn't use backlight, it uses a light guide, or kind of a flattened fiber optic cable that redirects the light down onto the page. [nytimes.com] . Maybe not exactly like direct lighting but closer than led backlight. Or so they say.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (4, Informative)

Wordplay (54438) | about a year ago | (#44525487)

Even the new Kindle Paperwhite is meant to be used with a backlight, increasing the likelihood of headaches and eyestrain.

Unfortunately, this is one of those cases where people just aren't informed enough

...for example, they think that the Kindle Paperwhite is backlit.

It's sidelit. That means the light comes from the front, diffused across the screen via a fiber optic mesh, reflects on the screen, and then back at you.

It doesn't have any of the problems that backlit devices do, and is extremely similar to reading with a booklight--except for the not having to carry a booklight part.

Nook Glow is the same basic tech.

Re:Disappearance of E-Ink (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about a year ago | (#44525451)

Or, why buy a second e-ink reader when the first one works just fine? My e-ink tablet goes about a month on a charge and since it's effectively a static image viewer. My android devices get slower or worse battery life as time goes by and I need to replace it every 2-3 years to keep up with the pace of technology.
 
My e-ink tablet on the other hand, will continue displaying books until the battery gives out in 4-5 years.

Sure... (5, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44525027)

Because they're charging the same price as a paperback, or hardcover, sometimes even more.

Re:Sure... (2)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about a year ago | (#44525159)

I don't find that to be the case - at least with nook. Nooks are almost always cheaper than hardcover and sometimes cheaper than paperbacks. They also sometimes have sales on nooks but not on the paper version.

Re:Sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525389)

Most hardbacks are more expensive but go look at any Penguin paperback. The e-book is usually the same price as the paperback. On the paperback I can get a 10% discount using my BN card that I can't an e-book. I ONLY by an e-book if it is cheaper than the print edition.

Re:Sure... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525403)

I often find it to be the case on Amazon that they are the same as or more than a paperback, and often I can get a used paperback for even less. Both of my kids have Kindles, but I still buy a lot of printed books just because it's cheaper.

Re:Sure... (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44525339)

Because they're charging the same price as a paperback, or hardcover, sometimes even more.

And eBooks typically cost more than twice the price of used paperbacks. And I can give the paperback to someone else after I'm done or sell it again for a couple dollars so it's even cheaper.

I really like my Kindle (the paperwhite with backlight is great for reading in bed without disturbing my partner - better than the clip-on book light) and prefer reading on the Kindle over reading paper books, but not so much that i'll pay twice what it costs to have a used book delivered to my door. My kindle to paper book ratio is about 3:1 -- lately I've only been buying Kindle books when I travel.

I know the publishing industry says they can't sell eBooks any cheaper, so they will continue to get very little money from me as I stick with used books.

Re:Sure... (2)

kaehler (43680) | about a year ago | (#44525439)

And because I am an old fart, I can increase the font size on ebooks so I do not need to use glasses. Can not do that with a regular book. And as I get older the print seems to be getting smaller.

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525779)

Of course your (completely rational) behavior is what the industry wants to drive out. The industry gets no money from used book sales, gifts to others (after you read it), etc. They want money every time it changes hands. The push to a license model (where you can't even hand the book to your wife / kids after you read it unless you cheat and have only one account) is something they see as very lucrative. It does piss me off to see the eBook license be the same price as a physical new book (sometimes higher, sometimes slightly lower, but always in the same range). Since the eBook license is non-transferable it has less value. Of course some value is regained due to being able to read it on a tablet, computer screen, phone in a pinch, etc. and not have to carry several books around when travelling. But overall, the reduction in value to the person taking the license should result in a lower price for eBook licensing.

Re:Sure... (3, Informative)

laura20 (21566) | about a year ago | (#44525359)

Yup. They are greedy; they want all that sweet extra crash - and despite the attempts of people to mau mau the numbers to convince the naive that ebooks cost as much for the producers as paper books, it's simply not true. The fact they don't have to factor in the risk cost of returns alone makes them vastly cheaper, even before considering materials costs and storage and transportation costs.

I'm simply not going to pay hardback prices for an ebook, and I suspect there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

Re:Sure... (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525537)

I'm simply not going to pay hardback prices for an ebook, and I suspect there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

That would be this guy.

Hell, I'm a bit offended that, when I buy a brand new paper book, it doesn't come with a digital copy. Pure rent-seeking, it is.

Oh, well, only a matter of time before I scavenge enough parts to build an automated book scanner. [google.com]

Re:Sure... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525513)

$1 per book once it hits paperback, and you'll see ebooks rocket, ereaders become the next big thing, and therefore, people will be lapping up cheap content. Spending $15 on a book that's available for less in a B&M store puts people off. Maybe a buck is too low, perhaps $3 will be a sweet spot. There's too much shit available from self-published wannabies right now. Proper books will still sell on paper, a lot of us prefer the media, but there's a whole planet of people that will buy books. Once they've committed to some hardware, whether that's a kindle of other e-ink device doesn't matter, they'll be looking to load it up.

Publishers need to face reality, their wares will make a lot more money for them and the authors, once e-books aren't a total and complete fucking rip-off.

Same price ? (4, Insightful)

PIBM (588930) | about a year ago | (#44525035)

You pay the same price, but then you can't lend them easily to your friends or resell them, you can't rent them from the local library, depending on the device used, annotating or marking the pages is not effective and can't easily be shared between two people reading the same book at the same time (keep slowly browsing through to get to the current page), and you need to have that device charged up (more or less a problem depending on the device type). Beside having it instantly and the lighting on the kindle paperwhite / kobo glow for night reading, there's not much to like :(

Re:Same price ? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44525097)

keep slowly browsing through to get to the current page

I don't know of any ebook solution that doesn't have a "goto location" function. The kindle's even offer page numbers that match those in the hard copies.

Re:Same price ? (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#44525193)

In many cases, I have to pay more. For instance, I wanted to have a copy of paper book I have. The paper book was #20 and the e-book was $30. Silly. O'Rieley has about the only decent plan.

Re:Same price ? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about a year ago | (#44525215)

It's a pro/con balance thing. I can read a new release without lugging around a hardcover. I can finish one book and immediately switch to the next without having to carry two books on the train - or worse several books when flying for 15+hours. I can bookmark a book on one device and pick it up on another (like my phone). I can instantly get more obscure titles that aren't in store without having to have it shipped.

The biggest downside is that right now you can't read them during take off and landing.

Re:Same price ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525317)

You pay the same price, but then you can't lend them easily to your friends or resell them, you can't rent them from the local library, depending on the device used, annotating or marking the pages is not effective and can't easily be shared between two people reading the same book at the same time (keep slowly browsing through to get to the current page), and you need to have that device charged up (more or less a problem depending on the device type). Beside having it instantly and the lighting on the kindle paperwhite / kobo glow for night reading, there's not much to like :(

Add to that list the fact that a lot of e-reader versions just aren't edited properly (page layout, tables, figures, images, etc. get mangled) and that you are locked into an ecosystem of apps or proprietary devices instead of anything resembling an open format. I think one of the other commenters is also dead on; more people have just gotten good at pirating PDFs, rather than suffer through all this when paying good money.

Re:Same price ? (1)

NeoMorphy (576507) | about a year ago | (#44525377)

What are you talking about?

The ebooks are cheaper, though not nearly as cheap as they should be, but still cheaper. There are also countless books in the public domain that you can get for free.

You can borrow ebooks from the library, you can annotate and bookmark, you can share annotations, and some can go weeks without a recharge.

What is there to like? I like being able to carry a library wherever I go. I have over a dozen tech manuals that are very awkward to carry with me but with a kindle, tablet, or smart phone I have access to the entire library whenever I want. I can electronically search for words like netdev_max_backlog and find all occurrences even if they are not in the index, I don't even use the index anymore.

Re:Same price ? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44525587)

There are also countless books in the public domain that you can get for free.

and

You can borrow ebooks from the library,

That and the occasional free book from Amazon constitutes about 99% of the reading done on our Kindle. I don't know if other people are as cheap as me, but I sure can see how once you find Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] you might purchase a lot less at $15/pop.

Are these people completely braindead? (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44525041)

Of course growth will stop at some point. We're not living in a world with infinite resources and infinite people. Growth will be positive up to the normal point where the needs are satisfied.

What they need to look at is sales themselves. If they keep selling more or less the same amount of eBooks every month, then all is well and there's no need to panic.

Growth is the worst thing that can happen past the saturation point.*

* see also, human population on planet Earth

Re:Are these people completely braindead? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44525263)

I'm not sure e-books are the venue to contest the fundamental validity of economic accelerationism.

Re:Are these people completely braindead? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44525443)

An eBook is available in unlimited supplies, but we still have a limited population. That's what I hate about economists and other fields who compute numbers like the real world has no limits, they're completely out of their minds and disconnected from reality.

"KindleNook Writer" by the Beatles (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44525057)

As prices have risen, quite frankly, I might as well order a paperback. Much nicer to hold and read.

Too many devices (1)

bobbutts (927504) | about a year ago | (#44525061)

The traditional Kindle is a better reader than a tablet, but it's a one trick pony. If I'm making a choice between the devices, the tablet usually wins.

Re:Too many devices (1)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#44525771)

I think we've done the "one trick pony" meme now. Stop humping it or its going to deflate.

More buck for the bang? (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44525067)

Perhaps it may have to do something with the price fixing scandal?

(I love it when publishers tell the public that e-books can't get cheaper because paper isn't actually that much of an expense and people need to get paid for the work, while the authors and translators are told in private that they can't get paid more because "paper and the printer shop costs too much".)

Re:More buck for the bang? (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44525147)

There are other expenses besides printing:
shipping, warehousing,
editing, layout, cover design
promotional expenses, incentives,

etc...

Re:More buck for the bang? (5, Informative)

jkonrath (72701) | about a year ago | (#44525563)

From http://journal.bookfinder.com/2009/03/breakdown-of-book-costs.html [bookfinder.com] (Slightly old)...
Based on a list price of $27.95
- $3.55 - Pre-preduction - This amount covers editors, graphic designers, and the like
- $2.83 - Printing - Ink, glue, paper, etc
- $2.00 - Marketing - Book tour, NYT Book Review ad, printing and shipping galleys to journalists
- $2.80 - Wholesaler - The take of the middlemen who handle distribution for publishers
- $4.19 - Author Royalties - A bestseller like Grisham will net about 15% in royalties, lesser known authors get less. Subtract the author's agent fees and self-employment taxes from that, too.
- $12.58 - profit for the retailer.

In the case of an ebook, you're removing the $2.83 in printing.

You might be removing some of the wholesaling cost, but you might be using Ingram to do your wholesaling if you're a big company. If you're self-publishing, you might be using something like BookBaby or Smashwords. Yes, you can go to KDP and register your own book yourself, but if you're selling in multiple places or selling multiple books, you're going to use a middle-man to handle cataloging, recordkeeping, and listing things in multiple places. If it's more than $2.80 in headaches, you use a distributor.

Marketing, pre-production, royalties all don't change. (Or they get squeezed, and you get exactly what's going on right now, which is authors complaining "they don't pay us or market us or do a good job editing us like the good old days.")

As for that $12.58 of supposed profit, here's the interesting thing - Amazon doesn't sell books at list price. John Grisham's new book, The Racketeer, is an example. List price: $28.95. Yours for only $19.81 in paper.

I'm not saying that ebook prices should be equal to the price of a printed book, but removing the printing doesn't suddenly make a book cost a dollar or even five dollars.

You can't build a library with an e-reader (2)

rolfwind (528248) | about a year ago | (#44525069)

Forgoing the DRM on music in Itunes did not kill the music industry, but that's what all the book publishers act like.

So all we're offered is lock-in, can't loan to friends, etc.

I don't even enjoy owning physical copies of anything, but with the digital copies I'm allowed to own outright and with as I please in private, I tend to buy (music), with the digital copies where they take every DRM step (movies) or go above that and lock me in (amazon, ebooks), I tend to either rent (netflix), get the physical copy and rip (DVDs), or borrow (Amazon Once a month or whatever library).

Re:You can't build a library with an e-reader (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525551)

Bullshit. There are free applications that will strip DRM from e-books and will also convert to any format you like. There is absolutely no lock-in on e-books if you're remotely capable of using a browser. Seeing as you're posting on /. you should damn well no better. Therefore, it's clear you are either trolling of FUDing.

pay to play (1)

mwessel (1759812) | about a year ago | (#44525083)

when there is absolutely no price benefit, why buy a non durable good? If you are browsing for older titles, it is actually more expensive to buy e-books.

Re:pay to play (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | about a year ago | (#44525267)

It depends on how old the title is. If you are talking public domain then you have thousands available on Project Gutenberg which you can read on your reader.

And I guess you get your internet connection free since you don't believe in paying for non-durable goods.

Re:pay to play (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525577)

And I guess you get your internet connection free since you don't believe in paying for non-durable goods.

OP never said they "didn't believe in paying for non-durable goods," they said, "when there is absolutely no price benefit, why buy a non durable good?"

Completely different, and a sentiment I agree with.

Costs more to print a ebook that a Hard cover ? (1)

WoodGuard (773426) | about a year ago | (#44525087)

I guess it has nothing to do with the fact a lot of ebook cost more than the Hard Cover. That cannot be it.

Price. (1)

new death barbie (240326) | about a year ago | (#44525095)

6. E-book prices have not fallen the way many expected. There’s not a big price difference between an e-book and a paperback.

THIS.

Also, perhaps this reflects a plateau in the number of people willing to invest in tablets or ebook readers? Do these numbers correspond to tablet sales, for example?

Apple (4, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44525099)

Something not mentioned was Apple pushing the price of ebooks up often by 25%. In general the main reason I haven't switched is that from Amazon used I frequently can get print books much cheaper than the corresponding ebooks. At the time ebooks were surging ebook prices were crashing and there was a huge difference between the ebook and the printed book price. Perhaps, not unreasonably, many people prefer printed books and given a high ebook price there weren't be a cut over.

Re:Apple (1)

Wordplay (54438) | about a year ago | (#44525517)

More than that, they were in the news for having done so, which painted the ebook market as a crooked game. I'm not surprised it suppressed sales.

Economics -- a pricing failure (4, Interesting)

coats (1068) | about a year ago | (#44525139)

With paperbacks, my typical behavior is to buy the book, read it, and then donate it to charity (at a retail used-book valuation) for a tax write-off. Given my marginal tax rate (state and federal combined), the net cost of the book is about 65% of face-value.

With E-books, I can't do that "donate to charity", so the face-value is the net cost, which seems to be about 10% under the paperback price.

E-book prices need to come down by at least 25% in order to become economically competitive for me.

Re:Economics -- a pricing failure (3, Interesting)

Princeofcups (150855) | about a year ago | (#44525497)

E-book prices need to come down by at least 25% in order to become economically competitive for me.

Except publishers do not want to sell e-books. Let me rephrase that. Publishers want to price e-books so high that people continue to buy paper books. Why? That's their business. They cannot conceive of a business with different distribution channels. The collusion between publishers was not to make more money off of e-books. It was to make sure that the prices are so high that it will not eat into their traditional sales. Something will come along to change the business, but not until a few rich fucks die or are bought out.

Maybe (-1, Offtopic)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#44525145)

I don't know, but I do know Obama lies.

Re:Maybe (0)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about a year ago | (#44525321)

That's a way to stay on topi... oh, look the kitty!

Re:Maybe (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#44525659)

Those distracting kittens would be a problem if Bush had let Cheney finish the job.

Because Printed Is Better (1)

J3947 (2543110) | about a year ago | (#44525163)

How about: "all the people who want to read books on e-readers have them?"

Personally, I still buy all my books in printed format. I don't have much desire for an e-reader. There are some aspect of an e-reader which would be more convenient (like easily taking all my books with me), but I'm generally only reading one book at a time anyway. But the downside to e-readers is that I'd like to know that my books will be easily accessible in the future - not tied to a specific "Amazon Kindle" or "Nook" device. Let's not forget that a recent survey showed that the average person still prefers printed books over e-reader books.

Re:Because Printed Is Better (1)

ColdCat (2586245) | about a year ago | (#44525649)

I've kindle it's nice and I like it but not to replace all my books. First there is price it's pretty common than paper is 30% less than ebook. Second the reader can store hundreds of books right. Third more than half of book I read doesn't exist in any ebook format.
if you can store hundred why is there is no way to sort you book without spending HOURS, it's a nightmare if you have multiple book by same author, multiple book with same name or some public domain book which are not well tagged (using search when your not sure of the book title is crazy).
I've used it for some technical books it's not always good. The writer have to do extra work to make it readable. ebook pages are smaller it works for full text but not when you have some diagrams, source code... Lot of technical book have hyperlinks to different chapters which is nice, but sometime you hit a link instead of turning page. BUT ebook reader give you the search tool which is really nice for finding references.

Ebooks are overpriced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525205)

It's pretty simple - ebooks are often priced more than the exact same paperback when you take into account sales and coupons (Barnes & Noble deluges me with coupons), plus the paperback has resale value that drives the overall price down even further.

The only reason I end up buying kindle books these days is either complete impulse buy (Must have it NOW!) or because my bookshelf is full.

Here's a free one to check out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525235)

Friend promo: https://leanpub.com/Abandonmentparty

Pay what you want!

eBooks are an easy sell to the uninformed (2, Interesting)

bazmail (764941) | about a year ago | (#44525253)

60% of the cost of publishing a traditional best selling dead-wood book is printing and distribution. With those costs zeroed by ebook publishing, prices have not come down. Add to this the DRM and onerous terms and conditions (you are buying a conditional license to read the book, you don't "own" it). It is illegal to lend the ebook to somebody, illegal to resell (also technically troublesome), probably also illegal to read aloud as that might count as public performance. So fuck publishers, DRM and eBooks.

Re:eBooks are an easy sell to the uninformed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525419)

Once they try paper there's no going back !

Sharing, pricing, archiving and DRM... (1)

gmezero (4448) | about a year ago | (#44525257)

I would suspect that it's more a case of users at the front end of the purchase curve tailing off after too many cases of "oops, I can't download it again because the publisher pulled it", crap I can't easily share it with a friend (who probably also has a different brand reader, even if their own reader supports lending), or even the... loss of the fun of "gee let's stare at the shelf and stare at my books"... Let's not forget the fact that there's no discount that one would expect in an electronic book since all of the print material publishing cost has been removed from the picture.

I know I initially purchased a few e-books but the novelty soon wore off and the price simply hasn't come down to where I go "$20" for this printed copy or "$20" for this e-book... just give me the print version that I can throw on the shelf and anyone in my family can read anytime they want.

Printed books were not broken. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525265)

The "fix" was never going to be more than a novelty.

Okay, to be fair, books are broken in several ways, mostly having to do with publishers and distributors. But eBooks didn't offer any improvements in these areas.

Lets Hope So! (1)

sdinfoserv (1793266) | about a year ago | (#44525293)

eBooks’ major problem is the whole copyright crap - No sharing - the time honored tradition of a book club dies, being smothered by lawyers. Book clubs become dens of iniquity full of felons - no different and receiving harsher treatment than a room of heroin users. Imagine the feds busting in on a room of suburbia moms discussing and sharing Harliquin romance novels. - We need movie. These very same book clubs that create best sellers are out lawed. Selling my books back to the book store in college after the class in now impossible. It’s so unbelievably short sighted it deserves to die painfully.

Re:Lets Hope So! (1)

J3947 (2543110) | about a year ago | (#44525357)

Is this a joke?

BTW, you can loan your ebooks. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200549320 [amazon.com]

You may now go back to your melodramatic fits of uninformed rage.

Re:Lets Hope So! (1)

kaehler (43680) | about a year ago | (#44525561)

14 days does not work for me. I need more time to read a book. And can I give a book to someone like I can a real book?

Re:Lets Hope So! (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#44525645)

From your link:

You can lend a Kindle book to another reader for up to 14 days.

and

A book can only be loaned one time. Magazines and newspapers are currently not available for lending.

Only being able to loan a book to 1 person, EVER, and only for 2 weeks, doesn't really qualify as "loanable." At least in the sense OP is talking about.

Re:Lets Hope So! (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#44525547)

Book clubs become dens of iniquity full of felons

All the best book clubs already were that.

ebooks are great for reading things you might like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525329)

... but hard-copy is stuff you would like to read again, again, again and retain memories.

I borrow 8 ebooks a month from my library for free, I don't read all day so that is more than enough for me. I usually get two books at a time, so I always have enough time. If I run out of ebooks, I just go to my library and get a physical one. If I see one I may like that isn't there, I note it down till it's available.

This is how most UK libraries work, if one person has the ebook, nobody else can get it until my 30 days are up, regardless of whether I have finished it or not. I have a cheap Nook and this works fine for me. I have never paid for an ebook in my life.

However, I do understand wanting a book which you read often to be a book which you can hold in your hand and keep. I have several which I keep with me, because reading a book via a Nook just simply isn't the same as having the book you always have known, turning each page with memories.

ebooks are great, but memories I doubt will be conserved when you read them with an lcd screen 10 years later. If I find an ebook which sticks with me I will usually buy a hardcopy.

Prices (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44525343)

Without a serious price advantage, I'd much rather have a physical book I can read, lend, give, or sell. In fact, I'd rather have the physical book in a lot of ways over digital.

That said, the convenience of an ebook is great. The reading experience not as much.

This is a suggestion for not just ebooks but tablets as a whole. Phones too: Make matte screens rather than gloss. Or at least anti-reflective screens. I can't adequately describe the frustration of trying to use either device outdoors in the sun, but I have frequently enjoyed books in such circumstances.

Re:Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525661)

You must have never tried an e-ink display. When I used my tablet for reading, the eye strain from looking at a backlit display was annoying, and not being able to read outside was also quite frustrating. With an e-ink reader, reading outside is no problem, and I have a light available if I end up reading at night. The eye strain is less than a regular book. Heck, I can even adjust the font size so I can read it without my glasses, and the battery on mine will run for a month without recharging. If I want to buy a new book, I just turn on the wifi, find it in the shop, buy it, take less than a minute to download it, and then I'm off reading again. None of this getting in a car, driving to the store, hoping they have what I want stuff. Also don't have to wait 3 or 4 days only to miss the UPS guy showing up and having to reschedule delivery. I can carry my whole library of ebooks with me without hurting myself, plenty of entertainment for even long trips. If the ebooks were just a bit cheaper and they'd let you use the e-ink readers in all stages of flight, I'd never have a reason to buy paperbacks or hardcovers again.

too many still not available in ebook format (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about a year ago | (#44525355)

Only about half of the books I buy are even available in ebook format, and the price isn't always enough less to offset the fact that they have no resale value.

The convenience factor is only an influencing one if you read on the go a lot, which I generally do not. YMMV, of course.

If I could convert my entire library (several thousand books) to ebook format for no or VERY minimal cost, I'd probably do it, but that's probably what it would take.

Re:too many still not available in ebook format (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525549)

I feel guilty because I use eBooks often, although I have a number of devices I read them on, from an iPad to a Nook HD, to a Kindle Keyboard, and of course a Kindle app on my desktop machine.

Sometimes there are unsigned authors on Amazon which have some pretty useful/intriguing stuff. If it is someone new, I read it, and then leave a detailed review of good/bad, so the next person coming across it knows if the money spent is worth it or not.

The biggest advantage of eBooks is portability. Where my phone goes, so does my book collection. When on a vacation (I RV a lot [1]), the Nook HD sees a lot of use.

[1]: I use RV-ing as a verb, as getting a trailer level, setting up solar panels, checking to see if things work, and other items are not really things I would call camping. Camping is a different set of skills, such as weather checking, finding a good place to drop a tent, cutting weight down to the bare minimum (like ordering jail toothbrushes that fit on a finger instead of using normal ones to save backpack space), and filtering water for a midday drink.

Re:too many still not available in ebook format (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about a year ago | (#44525761)

The biggest advantage of eBooks is portability. Where my phone goes, so does my book collection. When on a vacation (I RV a lot [1]), the Nook HD sees a lot of use.

Yeah, I'm thinking about getting an old Airstream and fixing it up for putting on a cheap plot of vacation land somewhere on the Washington coast, and if that happens, I'm quite sure I'd be doing more e-booking than I do now.

Most of the ebooks I buy are from new authors who don't have print versions of their books yet, and their ebooks are very fairly priced by comparison.

Paperback cheaper than e-book version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525405)

Just check the major stores; e-books are often more expensive than the paperback edition (and assuming you can combine a few orders to get free shipping where necessary).

Take a LOSS? A LOSS on eBooks? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#44525423)

The cost of an ebook is well over 99% pure profit for someone after the first 10000-20000 sales at $10 a book. (you have sunk costs of editors, proof readers, the writer, person who listed the book and maintained its entry on amazon.)

Paper is cheaper: Why pay more and get less? (1)

BobC (101861) | about a year ago | (#44525425)

A "mass market paperback" costs $8-$9, while the same book in eBook form costs $10-$12.

The paperback helps keep the knowledgeable folks at my local bookstore (Mysterious Galaxy) happily employed. The eBook does not.

My local bookstore often hosts authors for in-person talks. The eBook store does not.

I share my paperback with friends and family after I read it. Can't do that with a DRM'ed eBook unless I share my eReader too (which is my phone and tablet these days).

Why PAY for an eBook if it costs more and does so much less?

The only place eBooks shine is for books that are out of print and out of copyright: Tens of thousands of books are available from Project Gutenberg for free and without DRM.

Re:Paper is cheaper: Why pay more and get less? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525735)

PG is why I got my Kindle, then it broke after I read about 12 books, doing the math, I would have been better served getting the paper-backs.

Tablet Sales (2)

eskwayrd (575069) | about a year ago | (#44525491)

The predominant tablet also takes a 30% cut of in-app purchases, so not so enticing to sell e-books via the apps available.

Price Fixing Killed E-Books (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | about a year ago | (#44525589)

Who in their right mind pays the same amount of money for an e-book that they do for a paperback? The rich, and the stupid. Most others know they are being ripped-off.

Stupid pricing of Ebooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525591)

Ebooks are way too expensive. Almost always, can find a used book for less than the kindle price. Frequently I can buy the new paperbook for less than the kindle price.

This doesn't even take into consideration the money I can recover reselling the dead-tree versions.

The brain dead, obvious, near optimal, pricing strategy is to sell back catalog kindle books at $3, just below the minimum dead tree book cost. This would instantly slaughter the used book marketplace, and capture all those sales.

Audible Rocks (1)

bhlowe (1803290) | about a year ago | (#44525595)

I never read books anymore... I spend too much time in front of a computer reading code and everything else.. that the last thing I want to do is strain my eyes on an ebook.

But I listen to about 2-3 great books a month with audible.com. Expensive... and worth it.

Betteridge says no. (1)

rbpOne (2184720) | about a year ago | (#44525599)

And so do i.

Im currently reading three books, and i really appreciate beeing able to have all three of them, on me, all the time.

I enjoy reading on my smartphone, way more than paperbooks. Its brilliant reading with a backlit display.

Bad quality conversions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44525667)

Almost every single programming book I have purchased are of poor quality.

Source code Monospace type font is lost, many times using the regular courier font. Syntax highlighting is also lost. That is totally unacceptable and makes the source codes unreadable. Last time this happened to me, I have actually downloaded the (much superior) pirated version of the same book I had just purchased.

Shame on crappy conversions.

Uh huh (1)

The Cat (19816) | about a year ago | (#44525691)

Propaganda from the traditional publishers.

No Ebook Reader Innovations (1)

hashish16 (1817982) | about a year ago | (#44525699)

Once we get 8" ebook readers with flexible capacitive touchscreens and very light weight, we won't see any growth. These ebook reader innovation is stagnant so the ebook market is stagnant. Too much focus on Android tablets and Ipad development vs. eink tech.

rate of growth (2)

kqc7011 (525426) | about a year ago | (#44525799)

The market share is still expanding, just at a slower rate. Most of us have a basic library of e-books already and are not buying as much as we used to. If the price difference between a electronic published and one printed on paper is not that great, then the tree dies. When a paper book is not one that I am going to read again, off it goes to the used book store for credit on my account. Try doing that with a e-book. Where is this survey getting its data? If the numbers are coming from Association of American Publishers and they (the AAP) are using the big 5's reports then this could be a GIGO problem.
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