9 October 2012 by Dominic Lenton
Consensus seems to be that the period in which US e-books saw massive year on year growth came to a halt this time last year, and the market is expected to increase by only around a third in 2012. On top of that, as trade bodies start to refine estimates they made of sales in recent years based largely on statistical models rather than solid figures, their initial assessments look to have been overoptimistic.
Several factors have conspired to slow things down. The early adopters who piled in and loaded their devices with lots of books are realising they've got more than they'll ever have time to read, and the overall novelty of being able to carry the equivalent of a small library in your pocket has worn off.
At the same time, the arrival of tablet computers at a price not that much more than a top of the range e-reader has given consumers a tricky choice. And those who go for an iPad tend to spend their money on sexy interactive apps, not boring old books.
Take the recently launched Shakesperience, for example. A Kindle lets you download the text of Romeo and Juliet free of charge in seconds. You might get some notes, annotations and other functionality, but if you're studying the play (and let's be honest, why else would you be reading it?) how can that compete with a version that shows clips from great performances, lets you wander off to research the background to the play and a host of other digressions?
Which reminds me that you've only got a month or so to catch the British Museum's superb 'Shakespeare: Staging the World' exhibition, which uses eye-catching exhibits and technology to put some of Shakespeare's best known work in the context of the time it was written. As an experience, it's the equivalent of an iPad version compared with the e-reader-like static displays of a traditional museum. In the world of books, what are Kindle & Co going to do to woo the readers back?
Posted By: Dominic Lenton @ 09 October 2012 05:55 PM General
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