More Changes In The World of Publishing And Book Sales
There can't be much doubt that the advent of e-readers has been the biggest single change in the world of publishing, reading and book sales since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the fifteenth century. E-readers have been around for well over a decade, but it was really the launch of the Amazon Kindle reader that brought them to the public's attention.
That took place in November of 2007, and the original Kindle was, being honest, just a little clunky - quirky if you want to be polite - in comparison with the sleek, smooth readers available today. It was probably the launch of the Kindle 2.0 in early 2009 that saw the start of the meteoric rise of e-readers.
Other manufacturers tried to get in on the act, but Amazon continues to dominate the market. Today, their main competition comes from Barnes and Noble - and it's more than a coincidence that the two top dogs in the market are both well established booksellers.
The e-reader market is pretty well a Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook Glowlight shoot out right now. There are other alternatives available - but those are very much the main options.
Over the piece, Amazon seems to be worthy of its market leading position. It has not only dominated, but shaped, the emerging market for both e-readers and e-books over the last few years. It has now expanded its hardware range to include tablet computers in addition to e-readers (as has B&N).
It's easy to get wrapped up in the analysis of the hardware, but that's really missing the point to some extent. Whilst it may not be immediately obvious, it seems probable that, in the long term, e-books are at least as important as the hardware used to read them. At the end of the day, both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are booksellers.
Amazon's latest innovation may be signalled by the fact that it has just been awarded a patent titled "Secondary Market For Digital Objects". This is based upon the transfer of used digital objects - which could include software, audio, apps and, most likely, e-books.
It's an interesting development, and one which might have some very significant implications for book sales.
Unlike physical books, e-books do not become dog eared, worn and grubby after repeated use. There wouldn't be any point advertising a second hand e-book as being "as good as new". That would be taken as read, if you'll pardon the pun.
A second hand e-book would, to all intents and purposes, be indistinguishable from a brand new e-book. You would have to wonder why, if there was any significant price difference, anyone would buy new - assuming that there was a sufficiently large supply of second hand titles available that is.
At the moment it's not clear whether the author would receive any compensation for second hand sales - or what the mechanism might be. Amazon has only recently received the patent - and it might be years before they decide to act upon it. They may even choose tot ake no further action.
Nevertheless, it poses a great many questions as to what direction the world of book sales might take in future.
Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader
Amazon Price: $119.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 25, 2013)
Amazon Kindle Fire tablet Computer
Amazon Price: $174.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 25, 2013)