Friday, 22 October 2010

The Elephant in the Library

A Nielsen report shows 39% of iPad users regularly read books on their machines.  Viewed in context this is a great boost for eBooks even though it means 61% don’t…yet.  There could be a number of reasons holding back a large proportion of these consumers from fully realising the potential of the iPad in terms of an eReader.

Many will have no interest in reading this way instead preferring paper or even reverting to e-Ink machines such as the Kindle. Others probably don’t read…period.  The upshot of these stats though is very encouraging considering Apple shifted 7 million units since the launch earlier of the iPad in 2010.  If nearly 40% are purchasing eBooks regularly then the adoption of eBooks as an everyday media format is secure.

Pricing of eBooks will remain a hot topic to many publishers it is the elephant in the library.  Another recent survey showed that 62% of consumers are not prepared to pay for online content, a figure close to the 61% of iPad owners who are not using their machines to read books. I doubt there is correlation or if there is it would be interesting to know what the reason is that is stopping people either paying for online content or downloading eBooks.

Although eBooks have been with us for well over a decade now, the next two to three years are the vital time to ensure electronic books become established in the psyche of readers and general consumers alike.  How many people will wake up on Christmas morning to an iPad or Kindle and begin the experience of digital reading, and of those how many will receive eBooks as gifts and recognise the value of an eBook in the same sense as if it were a paper or hardback volume?

If we get the pricing right and the consumer recognises the value of an eBook, then the elephant in the library may roar its delight rather than create an obstacle we all want to skirt around.