Hardbound - #009 - Ebooks: What happened?

A lively discussion on the rise and fall of ebooks.

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Nathan BashawMaker@nbashaw · Head of Product at Gimlet Media
Hey! I'd love to start a discussion here :) If you went back to 2011 and told a publisher that ebook growth would grind to a halt by 2016, they’d never believe you. What happened? Why did everybody get it so wrong? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@nbashaw distractions on your phone are abundant... its always quicker (and maybe easier) to go checkout a tweet, read a 5 min blog post etc. Everyone loves a quick win. A book is an investment.
Nathan BashawMaker@nbashaw · Head of Product at Gimlet Media
@bentossell totally agree that people read books way less often than other forms of media, but if you were right, that'd be a reason why books are in decline generally, right? Turns out, overall book sales are pretty stable. Source: http://publishers.org/news/us-pu... The thing that's in decline is specifically *ebook* sales relative to print sales. Source: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/...
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@nbashaw haha I was going to mention this point in my past comment but left it out because Im not sure how best to articulate what I think about it. I feel like (rightly or not) that if you want a book, you will buy a book. Books are still an awesome thing to collect, gift, swap, take on holiday, get away from your sreen etc etc. The e-version of all of those just isnt as thoughtful IMO (at least doesnt seem like it) I dont think book enthusiasts saw e-books and thought oh lets ditch this physical thing for this e-experience.
Nathan BashawMaker@nbashaw · Head of Product at Gimlet Media
@bentossell Totally - it's like, because a book is such a big time commitment and you make the decision to buy one so rarely, the convenience factor of ebooks is minimized. It's like the opposite of social media, where the units of content are so small that convenience is everything. Also agree - ebooks aren't giftable. Makes a big difference.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@nbashaw yeh a e-voucher just isnt that great
Sam Gross@samthegeek · Technical Product Manager @ Oscar Health
Prices didn't fall and subscription services didn't gain traction (unlike, say, music or video) The experience isn't significantly better either — few people carry more than one book at a time, everyone carried more than one CD.
Nathan BashawMaker@nbashaw · Head of Product at Gimlet Media
@samthegeek totally agree!
Rodney Onanga@longrodsilver · CEO, Azimuth
I may be a bit late to this discussion and I do agree with most of what has been said although you should not judge the e-book success or failure on 1 year drop. Beside the New York Times' article about the falling of e-books sales was biased and it focused about the registered e-books and not the self published ones. I prefer hard copies to soft ones when it comes to books but thanks to e-books I can have multiple ones on my smart phone and read them everywhere whether on the bus or at home or on my browser (if I am on my PC). Furthermore I tend to read more than one book at once (I know it is not something we are advised to do but what can I do I love reading) mainly because sometimes I would like to read a fantasy novel, in the afternoon I would like to read so self help book, in the evening I may want to read a religious book or a business one. This makes e-books really practical since we have them all stored in the same place. One of the big hurdle concerning e-books is their prices. I am pretty sure it has been done by publishing houses who do not want to see this medium to take the edge over the common books and I don't see any point on spending so much for an e-book since you don't have to print any document so it should be far less expensive that it is now. Anyway I believe if we want e-books to do better the publishers and writers should really use the full potential the digital platform provides and make it more social . Is nice to see other people interested on this particular subject.