Looking around for book-related news this morning, I found this short piece in the New York Times (sigh—just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in) about how the ebook market in Europe hasn’t really taken off yet.
Frankly, I was a little surprised—not that I really thought all that much about European ebooks, but the whole ebook conversation often makes it seem like international borders are a thing of the past. Clearly, that’s not the case, especially since it sounds like the EU is where American publishers were a few years ago in terms of pricing models and how to deal with Amazon.
What’s more intriguing to me is that Europeans aren’t making eReaders available the way Amazon and Apple have pushed them on the American public. I just remember visiting Europe about 10 or 15 years ago, when cell phones weren’t yet ubiquitous in the States, and being shocked at how everyone seemed to have a phone to their ear—and how every advert seemed to be one pay-as-you-go plan or another. In that case, it took the US a few years to catch up on cell phone sales and usage. Yet now, it seems like we’re the ones ahead of the curve on eReaders.
Any thoughts as to the reasons for the discrepancy? Do you think it’s due to the scarcity of readers and titles as the Times reports (i.e., supply), or does it have more to do with European reading habits and tastes (demand)? I’d be particularly curious to hear from readers abroad about their experiences—surprisingly, the Times article avoids the selective anecdotes that usually inflate their publishing articles. Any stories to share?