Interesting discussion. I agree with the article describing the growth of eBook publication as an evolution
rather than a revolution
, and I feel there are too many variables for me to guess how many years it might take for eBooks to comprise 50% or more of the book market. Like Ink said, many people only read a book or two per year, and those people are unlikely to buy an expensive e-reading device. When video games came into vogue, the economy was booming, lots of people, including teenagers, had money to spend; and video game systems were made like tanks - they could be dropped or banged around, and they still worked. Right now, the economy’s struggling. Many people are trying to figure out how to pay their bills, so e-reading gadgets aren’t going to be on the top of their list of things to buy. In addition to that, e-reading devices aren’t ideal for young children – one of the age groups given multiple video game systems – because the devices are fragile, the screens can get scratched, and touch screens become easily smudged. I personally love eBooks. My own books are available on the Kindle and Nook, and will soon be available in the iBookstore for the iPad. That makes me happy. However, as a consumer, I rarely buy first generation gadgets because the second generation usually has the initial flaws resolved. I recently received a Kindle as a gift, and I’m going to use that for a while before purchasing another e-reader.
Apple has alienated many potential iPad customers because of its aggressive DRM policy, and is now in a feud with Adobe. Adobe has filed their complaint with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/09/adobe-go-screw-yourself-apple-2
. Here’s an interesting article entitled “What a Bad Week It’s Been for Apple’s Adversaries”: http://www.pcworld.com/article/193921/what_a_bad_week_its_been_for_apples_adversaries.html
. Right now, competing companies are quickly buying up digital technology, jostling to control more patents and to come up with the next big thing in e-reading devices. My guess is that many people interested in purchasing an e-reader will buy only one device, then hold tight before buying another one, waiting to see what might come along a few years down the road and which devices will completely disappear from the market.
While all this is going on, paperbacks and hardcovers are cheaper than ever before, with big-chain brick and mortar bookstores offering coupons and slapping 30% to 50% off stickers on piles of recently published books, and Amazon is selling paperbacks and hardcovers at discounted prices every day.
All these factors suggest to me that there will be many years in which eBook technology is further developed, turf wars are waged between competing companies, new companies rise up and some old ones falter, new laws are enacted for the digital age, and the way in which Internet information is shared and accessed through e-reading devices goes through many changes.