Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ebook vs Traditional Book - The Battle is on!

As an engineer I’ve watched closely as technological advances have changed the ways we work, interact, and play. With the upcoming shift in communication technology, ebooks are making a way to becoming a great new product that will continue to expand and change the publishing industry’s way of doing business. Are they ready for it? I think not. Many of the traditional publishers have been around for years, and are used to being successful with their current business model. It’s time though for them to change.


All over the internet I have read about the ebook vs traditional book debate. Let’s face it - we cannot change the tide of progress. When I went to college as an engineer, there was no world wide web. A cellphone was a clunky device that people paid thousands of dollars to use. Now, they have phones that act as mini-computers and more. The younger generation doesn’t even see a purpose in paying for land line service anymore.

I’ve given the example above to prove that e-books are a wave of the future. It will be at least twenty or so years before there will be a shift where e-book sales may out weight paperback – but the change will be coming. I also will note that traditional books will never go away. Not every part of the world is advanced enough to use devices for reading. There will always be a market for traditional books.

Why do I believe there will be a market shift to e-books? Well, because the younger generation is exposed to ebooks, just like they were exposed to dvd players, cellphones, and various other types of technology. Also, kids love new toys and technology. They aren’t scared of change, because the changes are taking place during their lifetime and they are young enough to go with the flow of progression.


Ebook providers actually make more money when they sell an ebook than they do selling a paperback. Why? It is simply business. It cost very little if hardly anything to allow the customer to come to your internet storefront and purchase, then download a book. It’s instant gratification for both parties. Yet, many consumers are still on the fence about ebooks and don’t want to pay the same price for an ebook opposed to a paperback.

Why don’t consumers want to pay that much? Well because many readers don’t feel that confident that an electronic reader or .pdf file will give them the same enjoyment as holding something they own. I personally think it’s mainly the older generation. I believe my six year old would have different buying habits because by the time he is my age, electronic readers will be dirt cheap and more compact and useful than paperback books.

Ebook providers want a larger profit and to push more product. They drop their prices in order to do so. Why? So they can compete with other ebook providers that lower their price point to boost sales.


Publishers are also in this to make money. I believe that they are only just beginning to take the ebook industry seriously. Now that they have, they are trying to hold on to their current profit levels and pricing point per book.

Publishers release books in stages, and hope to continue to gain top dollar for each rollout product. If consumers can get the book about 30% cheaper buying an ebook, then over time (let us say 15 years or so) the price point of books will change. Therefore, consumers may purchase the cheaper ebook instead of the more expensive paperback. Consumers that don’t have access to technology or readers will still consume paperback books.

Some people say, I would never buy an ebook over paperback. Well, let me ask you a question – If someone purchased an electronic reader for you as a gift, and you are book shopping, and the paperback cost $5 more than the electronic book. Which would you buy?

Over time consumers – who are looking for a deal – will expect that an ebook will cost $9.99 or less. Therefore changing public opinion of what a book is worth overtime. This cuts into the long-term profit potential of the publisher.


I believe that in the end, larger publishers will have to rethink their price points if they want to stay competitive. The market will dictate their overall price. Small publishers are more willing to take the price point slip in order to make a profit – any profit on the sales of their books. Also, it’s much cheaper to produce, store, and disseminate ebooks. With the technological age and the of consumer buying habits, I believe price competition will drive the big boys down. In the end the ebook providers will win. The publishing industry definitely should retain the rights to price their product, and I am happy that his rule still stands.

The ebook providers have been internet product pushing and marketing for a long time. They know what price point sells their goods. In the end, they will set the price that consumers are willing to pay, even if they have initiate a sale that slices the items price in half. Why? Because they also want to make a profit and realize that to do so is to price the item to sell.


DarkWyrmReads said...

Another great post. I agree that traditional books will probably never go away, but ebooks are slowly but surely getting a wider fan base.

Old-schoolers resist the urge but today's (and tomorrow's) generations are growing up in the electronic age and ebooks are just a part of everyday life for them.

However, certain actions can slow the progress of ebooks. Not too long ago, Amazon made a big stink because they had sold a certain title without having the proper permission.

When they got caught (or realized their error), their solution was to access customer Kindles and remove the files for that particular story.

Would they have sent people into customers houses to retrieve a traditional book off the bookshelf? Probably not, but they saw no problem with removing an electronic product that people had made money for.

This type of news can make people decide to ignore the new format for books.

Still, I do believe the audience for ebooks will continue to grow.

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abott paul said...
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abott paul said...

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