E-Commerce Times Talkback
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Most of us hit our heads against a wall and learn, quickly, that it hurts. Some people
never learn, but those people might just be the ones to take the Internet to the next
level. Take, for example, the e-book crowd. On the surface, it seems clear that these
people just don't get it. It has been two years now since Stephen King tried his e-book
experiment, only to find that the honor system is inherently flawed. And since then,
e-books have all but fallen off the map.
"...moving from a niche to a mass market..." may not in fact be key to future e-book success.
If romance novels, or whatever those things in the checkout lanes are, are a "niche," I need to recheck my dictionary.
And even if they are, perhaps success for the e-book, as in other information technology, will be the diversification of the monocultural mass market into a richer ecology of diverse audiences for diverse literatures.
I prefer reading on paper but living in the UK face a delay of sometimes years before American books appear over here. So I download the electronic version at about a fifth of the cost and then a year or two later, if I really like it, buy the British edition in paper. Sometimes of course publishers just don't want to sell overseas so the electronic version is our only choice.
There are advantages for writers and publishers - they can sell an electronic version at a fifth the cost of paper and still make more profit. See the e-books site at http://www.baen.com for a full analysis. I have read dozens of their excellent e-books, many of which are by famous living authors. I also have dozens of paper books from the same publisher, they are not mutually exclusive.