So, the talk lately (around here at least) is that e-book sales are slowing down—significantly enough that doomsday prophecies about the health of the format are being bandied about by the ever-unflappable* publishing community. Through several Amazon initiatives that are too complicated and, well, tedious to go into here, that monolithic company has undermined the Indie publishing world it mostly created as well as undercut sales of traditionally published books. Then, there are the studies that say that print reading gets absorbed more efficiently into your bloodstream. And, finally, there’s the “Hipster Effect” which makes anything retro cool again—so the youngsters are all reading paperbacks on the subway instead of Nooks–combined with the “Geezer Effect” which makes all this newfangled technology suspect and terrifying.
All of these things really add up to just this: there’s been a correction in the digital book market. The quick growth of the last few years has slowed down as consumers have gotten used to the idea of a new product, road tested it, and decided that, while nifty, it’s not the be-all, end-all. Does that mean e-books are over. Uh…no. This format has legs, in my opinion. But, it does mean that it is going to have to get creative about competing against its print counterpart and all the other media we’re collectively obsessed with. And, that means that publishers, e-publishers, and e-tailers as well as authors are going to need to come up with ideas on how to make this a category that works on its own terms but also complements the underlying publishing rights—i.e., the copyrighted content.
For my part, I’ll just keep doing what I usually do—read both my Kindle and the thousands of print books cluttering my house and office—and wait to see how sales actually look once the dust finally settles.
What do you guys think about the long-term health of the e-book market? Is the slowdown a good thing or bad, in your opinion?