Here are some thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader from Tony Leblanc of Cover to Cover Books.
I’m not sure if the purchase of a printed book includes an electronic copy – my interest is more how many printed book sales Kindle will replace. For someone who doesn’t mind reading on it, paying $9.99 for a new release instead of $26+ for the hardcover is pretty attractive.
If one looks at the music industry as a comparison, the prevalence of MP3 players and downloading music has had a huge impact on sales of CDs, etc., to the point where, here in Canada, many (if not most) independent music stores have closed their doors. Is the arrival of Kindle a sign of the same changes in the book industry in the years to come? I suspect that, as the current 20-something population ages, electronic copies of books will become more and more common. If I owned a bookstore selling primarily new books, I’d be concerned about the long-term viability of a store.
I checked some Kindle titles on Amazon, and currently there is no real savings for a Kindle version of a title available in MMPB. For new hardcover releases, however, there is quite a difference in price. I’d not generally pay $25-30 for a hardcover fiction new release, but I might be willing to pay $10 to have it downloaded to my Kindle and read it there. However, I would expect the price of both the Kindle units and the titles will drop over the next few years.
With used books, I see some other factors involved. One is availability – it remains to be seen how many older titles will be made available on electronic media in the future. I suspect that books released within the last 20 years, for example, can be readily converted to electronic format, because they were printed using computerized means in the first place. The fate of older books is more uncertain – depending on whether publishers can justify the costs involved in scanning or otherwise turning text on paper into an electronic format, versus the revenue they could expect to generate from sales of that title.
I also think the concept of paperback exchanges will continue to be popular – you can’t buy a “used” title for your Kindle, and can’t trade in titles that you’ve already read for trade credit towards new titles. At our store, a shopper using trade credit would pay 25% of cover price cash for their books, so until and unless an older title can be purchased for the Kindle for a comparable price, I think there will be a market for used books. In the long-term, I believe the market will shrink, although I believe there will always be a need for a low-cost book that a person doesn’t mind taking to the beach, reading in the tub, etc., places where I wouldn’t want to take my Kindle.
(Mind you, if Kindle DOES introduce something like that in the future, where an electronic title could be “traded-in”, and removed from your unit, with a credit towards another sale, that could change my current thinking!).
Definitely something to watch………..
related story… The new Kindle