The printing industry will not come to a crashing halt, writers will not be sent to the poorhouse, publishers will not go out of business, pen and ink will not become obsolete. At least not this year.
There will, however be changes.
I wasn’t around but I’m sure that there was a certain amount of skepticism when paper mills started churning out paper in 12th Century Europe, I’m sure that there were those who scoffed when the paper making process was mechanized in the 19th Century. I’m sure that there were those who claimed that “this new paper thing will never catch on”, just like there are those now, who are doubting the implications of such a large shift in the e-book market.
In only a couple of months, one of the World’s larges companies with a long established International presence will open an online book store, they’ll sell electronic books to an already wanton, established, market. They’ll develop new markets and change others.
This online book store will bring e-books to the masses in a format that will be readable on millions of devices already in peoples hands globally, and will cater to devices, not yet on the market.
Apple is going to change the way e-books work!
Yes, Amazon has tried. Yes, Barnes and Noble has tried. Each with their own form of success.
Apple coming to the electronic book market is like changing the classroom from reading the chalkboard and etching on a piece of slate to making paper text books and notebooks widely available. Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like!
It’s also like the changes that have been brought upon the world of printed and televised news media by Social Media.
The next evolution in education (at least) will be issuing students with electronic tablets, whereupon they can download and read up-to-date text books and submit their work, legibly to their teacher, all over the ether.
Quizzes and exams can be taken electronically and graded immediately. Teachers’ workloads will be cut immensely.
Getting a book, any book, published and into the hands of your public is quite a task mostly because it costs so very, very much for a publisher to back and promote something that isn’t really a sure thing. Whenever a publisher takes on a book they have to be sure that they can make back the money that they’re going to spend on editing, promoting and printing a book. What happens if a book flops? a publisher ends up with thousands of printed books that nobody wants.
What’s to say that the book is up to date? Text books change and become out of date very, very quickly. A publisher has to be sure that current versions are available on the market and they everyone is kept informed on the book revisions.
Electronic books make ‘printing’ a truly on demand process. If a reader is interested in the book they can download it and read it on their reader. There’s no up front printing involved at all.
Should there be revisions or changes made to an electronic book, a notification can just be sent to the device instructing the user to download the update. There is no need to re-print a whole new line of books because a planet is no longer termed a planet.
But electronic books have been around for years, why hasn’t this happened before now?
E-Book readers haven’t been particularly available to the masses. An e-book reader is just that – an e-book reader and nothing else. It takes a select segment of the population to buy a pricey device that is dedicated to just one thing. Whether it does it well or not is of little concern. Would you buy a microwave that only baked a wonderful potato?
Now that there is a device coming to the market that will be an e-book reader and a whole lot more people far far more likely to embrace it and not think of it as so exclusive.
Apple has worked hard on establishing a global market. They’ve done it very well too. There have been more than 42 million iPhones sold since 2007. This alone is a very strong buyer market on it’s own, even without considering users who have iPods, other Apple devices and those users who don’t yet own anything Apple.
Even if just a small portion of the existing Apple users start reading e-books, this will have quite an influence on the literary market.
Apple has established a very popular online store iTunes and the Apple App store. They’ve shown that they can make it very easy for users to access the media they want, when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. Also at a price they evidently like. Electronic books in an Apple run store makes the medium highly accessible.
No, electronic books and miraculous readers aren’t going to imminently change the paper landscape. I wouldn’t want them to. There’ll never be anything that can replace the tactile, personal, interactive feeling that you get from an actual book. It will change certain markets that will benefit from the massive savings, convenience and availability that the new technologies can offer.
Author: Andy Quayle
Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.
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