Books are wonderful products. Original content, well designed, mobile, multimedia (sometimes). I love books. I will always love books, buy them, read them, study them. But the book industry is changing and what keeps me up at night is the question whether or not publishers and book sellers are able to mix their paper products with the electronic versions. If this value chain should react to disruptive technology like the music industry has or as the newspaper industry is trying to do now, these beautiful products might suffer and maybe even fade away.
Not tomorrow of course, not even in the coming years, but in the end the pressures will be so high, that incumbents can no longer afford to do business as usual. Meaning fewer books, less well designed books, fewer bookstores.
Look at the dazzling growth of iBooks. In just 2 months 5M were downloaded from the until then unknown iBookstore. One can discuss marketshare and %’s , but 5M still is a huge number.
Look at the first attempts to come up with new and interactive reading experiences. Some of them are quite good.
Look at the very low cost of entry for new publishers and even authors.
Every discussion in the trade should focus on two simple issues:
- acceptance of the profound effects technology can have on orginal content (music, news)
- creation of a mix of paper and e/i books
Alice asked where to go and the reply was that it did not matter where you go, if you don’t know where you want to go. The very first really exciting interactive multimedia iBook was Alice in Wonderland. How remarkable.