Sunday, February 20, 2011

eBooks -- The Publishing Revolution

I am asked all of the time what I think will happen with eBooks and paper products. If you think this is a new question -- that would be no, it's not. I got asked this same question back in the '90s when the Internet revolution hit to the peril of the magazine industry -- and I was publisher during this time too. No doubt eBooks are impacting the marketplace. One would have to have "rectal cranium" disease not to notice the eBook readers for sale and the capabilities on iPad. The question, though, is will paper-based books go away? The answer is, "Not anytime soon." eBooks augment the market and give people more options. Some people will exclusively read their favorites books on their digital readers. Others will read them exclusively in paper. Others will do both. Remember, an eBook reader breaks when dropped into the water. So, those beach readers won't want to take their Nook out into the Caribbean. Then you have the issue of third-world countries where they don't have a library much less digital readers. Those people are happy to have any kind of book. So, we have a long ways to go before we say good-bye to paper books. Is it a good idea to offer eBooks as part of our product line? Of course it is -- and we will over time. Is it a good idea to exclusively offer only eBooks? No, as I just said, some people always want paper. And this will definitely change over time, but not tomorrow and not today. Is this impacting the marketplace? Yes, absolutely, but it's not the reason Borders filed Chapter 11. I think what you're going to see happen with bookstores is a diversification of the products and how you procure the products. Shopping exclusively online is no fun. People will always want the shopping experience. So to naively suggest that physical bookstores will go away is ridiculous -- but the bookstore experience will remain. It just won't look the same either.

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