E-books: An Industry Game Changer for Publishers

E-books:  An Industry Game Changer for Publishers

By: Marquez Hughley

            I recently read an article in the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine regarding the threat that Larry Kirshbaum, Vice-President and Publisher of Amazon Publishing, poses to the entire book publishing industry.  Kirshbaum’s Amazon Kindle Store and explosive e-book sales have resulted in Amazon becoming a major competitor with the mainstream Big-Six publishers–Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper-Collins, Penguin, Hachette, and Macmillan. With the massive success of Kindle devices in the marketplace, traditional-style publishers have to rethink their companies’ growth strategies to remain sustainable.

If you think about consumers buying books, you definitely have to recognize the value that an e-book provides each reader.  They are less expensive than paperbacks and hardbacks, downloadable in seconds, and easily accessible on any Kindle device, Kindle application on smart-phones and tablets, and any other e-book reader (such as the Nook by Barnes and Noble).  According to a recent report by the Association of American Publishers, adult paperbacks and hardback book sales fell 18 percent between 2010 and 2011.  It also stated in the article that 29% of Americans owned at least one digital reading device, reported at the end of January 2012.  Amazon reports that they now sell 105 e-books for every 100 printed books sold.

Kirshbaum’s Amazon Publishing is becoming even more aggressive. They are going after mainstream authors, offering them larger royalties for signing with Amazon Publishing directly.  By doing so, Amazon could cut out the “middle-man” traditional publishers and deal exclusively with their authors.  They have been recently successful in signing Timothy Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, to their list. Author Joe Konrath has found tremendous success with the self-publishing side of Amazon Kindle marketplace. Konrath states that he’s making about $4,000 a day and collecting a 70% royalty on every book sold.  We can clearly see that this type of scenery in the book publishing industry is causing great pain for traditional publishers.

Apple, Inc. has shown their interest in the e-book industry as well.  They have introduced iBooks, and more recently, iTextbooks to the marketplace.  Google, Inc. is definitely not sleeping on this industry’s opportunities; they have their e-books available for readers on Google Books.  It seems like everyone is enjoying this new wave of technology that affords us all with great books for lower cost–everyone is, except the traditional publishers.  They are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the pain and need to quickly revolutionize their business models to keep investors and mainstream authors interested.

I can attest to the spreading popularity of e-books. I personally have the Kindle application installed on my iPhone and my Acer tablet.  I have a number of books downloaded to my Kindle e-book library, and I love the fact that I can read books whenever and wherever I want without having to carry a ton of them with me.  I now have access to more of my books without having to struggle with keeping up with them when I’m on the go.  I usually have a busy week ahead of me, bouncing between class and work on most days; having my tablet and phone with me, I can dive right into a plethora of knowledge with the touch of a finger.  The e-book industry has become a “game-changer” for sure!

Even in the classrooms of universities and colleges, e-books are becoming more and more popular.  I believe this is mainly so because of the relatively cheaper cost of obtaining the much needed textbooks for class.  I personally chose to buy the e-book form of my Global Business textbook for my International Business course this semester.  It was definitely less expensive than the printed version, and I wanted to be as frugal as I could in regards to my purchases.  I truly needed the information, meaning I had to purchase the textbook; but I was delighted that I could get it in the form of an e-book.  This choice has proven to be most beneficial for me.  I am able to access my textbook even when I’m not carrying anything else but my cell-phone.

In closing, the success of e-books has taken the traditional publishers by storm.  I do not see the world turning back in their favor, especially if they continue with their existing business models.  The world is becoming more and more dependent on technology.  Our smart-phones, tablets and i-Pads are rapidly becoming “man’s NEW best-friend.” I think traditional publishers are paying close attention to the e-book industry, and will eventually adapt. But for now, Amazon’s Kindle store, Apple’s iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Google Books are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

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