One of the headlines that caught my attention today is that Amazon has reported their e-books are outselling their print books, and it took less than four years for that shift to occur. This timeline is shorter than most had predicted.
This isn’t surprising, but it lends further credence to the fact that the music revolution of the 2000s is now occurring in the publishing world. After the iPod became ubiquitous with digital music sales, the music industry had to redefine itself. The music industry is still adapting to that seismic shift in customer consumption of content, especially with the nearing announcement of Apple’s “iCloud” to match Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Google’s Music Beta cloud service. (Are there really people that will use these services?)
However, even with the model that the music industry (failed to) give to the publishing industry, is the publishing industry ready for their own seismic shift? I was recently made aware of the so-called Kindle millionaire, Amanda Hocking, and I’ve been reading posts here and there (E-books vs. P-books and What Would You Pay for an E-book?) regarding how the pricing structure of Kindle books, and e-books in general, has affected our consumption of these particular formats of books.
It would appear that the Kindle is playing the role of the iPod, and that the current price points of ebooks are akin to the price points of their musical counterparts, i.e. most songs are 99 cents and most books hover around the $9.99 price point. However, many independent authors have experienced success in allowing their electronic books to be sold for 99 cents.
- Will their success drive down prices across the digital board, or will their success be the loss leaders for their own other works?
- Ten years from now, will books still be mass-produced or simply made on-demand?
- At what point does the ease of access and appealing price point of an e-book overwhelm traditional publishing?
- Has it already happened, or are there a few decades left?
- Will we soon become a society in which the digerati fight the literati?
If so, which side will you be on?