November 27, 2009

The death of the printed book is closer than you think

Arvind Narayanan’s on why ebooks are going to take over soon:

The Kindle seems to be following roughly the same adoption curve as the iPod. Barely two years after it was first released, everyone my age has at least played with one or knows someone who has one.

While the Kindle’s brand awareness and mind-share seems be following the same path, it needs to deal with a significant obstacle: even if the price drops to zero, many users aren’t yet convinced it’s better than physical book reading. Almost everyone that saw an iPod for the first time knew they wanted one, it was just deemed too expensive until the iPod mini was introduced at $249.

Now, from the point of view of authors (which Arvind kinda is), it’s a completely different story:

Amazon shares 35% of revenue with the author for self-published books. In one sense that’s unfairly low: Apple for instance shares 70% of revenue with app publishers. Still, it is five times higher than royalties from a traditional book publisher.

If it becomes more financially attractive for middle of the curve authors to give priority to ebooks, in addition to the potential democratization of book publishing:

With ebooks, someone who thinks they are a great writer doesn’t have to wait and beg to be discovered—they can find out for themselves by self-publishing, promoting their work on Facebook and Twitter, and seeing what kind of response they get.

You now have a technology adoption that is being driven by content exclusivity.


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