eBook Competition Gets Fierce

The iPad has landed! But that’s far from the only bit of ebook news this week. Things are really heating up, so let’s dive right in!

First, the Association of American Publishers released their estimates for 2009 book sales. The bad news is that overall book sales declined 1.8%…but the silver lining is that ebook sales GREW 176.6%!!! It’s very exciting stuff, but ebooks still aren’t big enough to carry the whole book industry. Overall book sales were $23.8 billion, and ebook sales only made up $313.2 million. It’s a start, but a small one.

If you’re comparison shopping for an ebook reader, Wiley wants to help with their new eReader Resource site. Tell it what your criteria is in a reader, and Wiley will spit back an answer. It does list some items that haven’t appeared yet (like the Skiff reader) but otherwise it’s very helpful as a basic guide. (via Mobileread)

Apparently Plastic Logic’s Que reader isn’t dead (yet). Reports are trickling in that people who preordered are getting a notification that it should ship by June 24th. No word on whether there’s a price drop or feature bump to better compete with the iPad and other tablets, but we’ll find out closer to June. Assuming it doesn’t get delayed again…

(photo courtesy Engadget)

Apple announced a few interesting ebook tidbits at their iPhone OS 4.0 event today. One, 600,000 iBooks have been downloaded since Saturday. Apple didn’t break out paid versus free books, however. And more importantly, Apple is releasing the “iBooks” application for iPhones as well. This puts them head to head with Amazon and B&N, which really heats up the ebook competition. It still ties you directly and solely into Apple’s ecosystem, but at least it expands the reading locations.

News broke earlier this week that Amazon will be selling the Kindle through Target. Apparently B&N had the same idea, and will be selling the nook at Best Buy. If you heard a piercing scream, that was Sony crying that the two retailers actually stocking their devices just picked up two far more popular competitors. In all seriousness, this is a great move for both Amazon and B&N, and might help them fight the tablet army headed their way.

(courtesy of Making Decisions)

And finally, a quick anecdote to tie together all the news this week. I had dinner with a group of friends on Tuesday night, and almost immediately upon sitting down they started asking if I had an iPad yet. One of my other friends said she’s thinking about buying a Kindle for her commute, and it led to a discussion about ebook readers and their advantages/disadvantages. I happened to have the Jetbook Lite with me that I am reviewing, and while everyone was intrigued by the hardware, they couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that it couldn’t read books from Amazon. Once I explained the concept of eReader, Amazon, DRM, etc., they started to get it, but they didn’t like it.

My friends are avid readers but aren’t part of the geek set. All they knew was that they wanted to buy books and read them easily. When one of them buys an ebook reader, whether it’s a Kindle or a nook, that’s it. That company won a customer for a good long time. It highlights, again, the importance of content and a strong store presence. It just underscores how smart it is for Amazon and B&N to be beefing up their retail presence, and why Apple is muscling their way into the business. It does make me wonder about the viability of many non-major ebook readers…I know that big ebook fans will happily try these devices, but their chances of hitting a home run with the average consumer seems slimmer and slimmer the more the ebook industry becomes more silo’d along DRM lines.

What’s your take on the future of the ebook market? Share your thoughts below!

Categories: eBooks, Editorials

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3 replies

  1. State of the eBook: Competition Gets Fierce | Gear Diary: If you're comparison shopping for an ebook reader, Wiley… http://bit.ly/cMYJZw

  2. I think e-books is definitely the future. I wish more titles were readily available, but I am sure as time passes they will be. I still have a hard time buying a e-book that’s over $9.99, but maybe with time i’ll get use to the idea? I don’t know paying over $9.99 for scanned words is a bit steep still to me.. I feel like I should be getting a physical copy if I’m paying over that, but that’s another problem i guess. :)

    Anyhow, I didnt know about the QUE til this post soooo I’m going to head over to google and do some googling on this :)!

  3. #Ebook: recap della settimana da @GearDiarySite, piĆ¹ riflessione: sono possibili solo i sistemi chiusi di Amazon e B&N?http://bit.ly/c8dDru