Last week there was a big furore over Tim Waterstone’s comments that the eBook revolution is in decline, with much debate and coverage of these comments. I, for one, do not completely agree with his opinion, but it did get me thinking.
In the current climate/market, I think that eBooks are still currently finding their place. Lots of people are still using eBooks as a way to self pubish, which we don’t have a problem with as long as the quality is high. Unfortunately, as ‘self publishing’ suggests, there can be little control or self-policing which has lead to an influx, some may say saturation, of below par content. We are not taking a cheap shot at self publishers, as there have been many doing it succesfully and many that are worthy of printing.
Another factor to consider is the distributors’ fascination for pumping out cheap eBooks. Or maybe they aren’t producing them cheaply, but in their bid to drive sales, prices are drastically slashed. People may argue that eBooks cost nothing to produce, but had the editing, typesetting, cover design, marketing and the like not been done for the printed title, an eBook would not be so quick and easy to produce.
There is also the fact we are in a bit of a technological lull (bear with me on this one!) – there have been no great advances in e-readers really since the dawn of the Kindle. Yes, tablets have opened up more opportunities for interactive and engaging eBooks, but many people would rather use the same tablet for browsing the web, watching a film or jumping onto an app. And although there are companies experimenting with new pricing models and purchase options, the experience of reading an eBook largely remains the same. I think until something new comes along, this will (probably) stay fairly similar and follow the same trend.
Having attended the Faber Factory conference earlier this year, the statistics they were showing indicated that the eBook market is beginning to plateau but not decline (yet). What I took away from the conference is that the eBook market has been going at 100mph since it started, and now it’s having a breather before shooting off in its next direction.
I don’t think that eBooks are going to disappear, certainly not any time soon. Just as printed books will be around for a long time yet. I feel that we’re seeing the natural order being established after a few years of change and jostling for position, and a happy medium will eventually be struck.