Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Has demand for e-books finally reached a tipping point?

Yesterday’s post was about a new digital publishing format, v-books. Today’s post is about e-book readers, a not so new digital publishing delivery platform that may finally be taking off in the U.S.

It was reported yesterday that sales of Amazon’s Kindle may have reached 500K units in 2008. This, according to analysts, may put it ahead of early sales volume levels for Apple’s iPod. It has been a long time coming. I don’t know exactly when e-book readers became commercially available in the U.S., but I know it was at least as early as 2001. In the eight or so years since, consumer demand and adoption have been tepid at best - until now.

I have been a Kindle owner for about five months and am more than pleased with the usability of the product and Amazon’s content delivery platform. However, one disappointment has been the amount of book, and to a lesser extent magazine, titles that are available for download (it would also be nice if it had a color monitor and touch screen capability but maybe that’s asking too much for a product that sells for $359 considering all the other things it does).

That’s why I was happy to hear that Kindle sales topped 500K units last year. As the number of Kindle owners increase the demand for more titles will also increase. For example, about four months ago I did a search in's Kindle store for Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (a modern classic & Pulitzer Prize winner). The book was not available and if I recall correctly there was only one or two Roth titles on hand – a bit of a letdown. Today the book is there along with seven other Roth titles.

Right now, Kindle and digital book downloads are a small percentage of Amazon’s overall sales. But as demand increases that will change. Now I wish someone (Amazon, Apple or mail-a-movie giant Netflix) would offer a viable arrangement for delivering digital movie downloads to box-top sets. There is certainly consumer demand for that innovation.

Kindle 2.0 to be unveiled soon

No comments:

Post a Comment