It seems like E-Books have been on the verge of being “the next big thing” for at least 10-13 years.
Sony has had an e-book reader. RCA had one, too. Others have tried. Now it’s Amazon and iRex. (See Article: 5 Ways iRex’s E-Reader Will Challenge Amazon Kindle)
Experts have speculated in endless discussions and articles over the years about why e-books haven’t caught on.
“It’s copyright issues.” “It’s title availability.” “It’s compatibility across devices and format.” “It’s the price of the device.”
All these arguments and speculations are valid, especially that last one. But I think I know the clincher, and it’s one that consumers probably know intuitively, but which seems to elude the experts: The e-books cost too much!
Let’s think about this…
You see an $8.99 paperback you want to buy. You go to Amazon and check to see how much you can save if it’s available as an e-book.
Searchiiinnng… YES! There it is! How much?!$8.09?!?! What’s the bloody point of that?! They expect me to buy a Kindle or iRex for $200-300 so I can save 90 whole cents on a book? And it’s intangible? And I can’t archive it or copy it off the reader? Or lend it? Or re-sell it or donate it?
Screw that. I’ll buy the paperback!
So there you have it. The publishers don’t actually have to print it (so they don’t need presses, ink, paper, buildings, or people to do any of that), store it (no warehouses), ship it (no boxes, handling or freight costs), or take it back (eating the cost of unsold books). The booksellers don’t have to receive it, warehouse it, handle it, or invest in it. Everyone at the publishing and resale end is saving a bundle.
And all I get is a lousy 10% discount? Who’s kidding whom, here??
And there you have the oddly elusive and yet most obvious answer. E-books haven’t caught on because THEY COST TOO MUCH FOR WHAT THEY ARE!
What we seem to have here are publishers and book resellers — mostly the publishers, I suspect — being really, really greedy (and foolish too, I think) — and believing that they can save all this money in the production and sales process, and pass along virtually none of the savings to their customers.
When I can buy an e-book “paperback” for about 3 bucks instead of $8.99, I’ll seriously think about buying an e-reader. Until then… I’ll just look forward to getting up and smelling the ink and paper.