Ebooks dont cannibalize print, people do, says Evan Schnittman
October 12, 2010 | 10:23 am
By Paul Biba
That’s the title of a blog post by Evan Schnittman. His is responding to an article in the Bookseller which stated that growing ebook sales of romance and science fiction have led to a cannibalization of printed books in those genres.
While I see the logic behind this understanding – I posit a slightly more nuanced definition of what is happening: Ebooks aren’t cannibalizing print books — consumers with ebook reading devices are, as a rule, no longer buying print books. Subtle? Yes, but from a commercial publishing point of view this is a crucial difference between seeing a direct correlation between ebooks and print books and understanding what happens to a customer when they make the switch to reading devices. …
This is a critical understanding of ebook customers. They invest in a device and platform to read books and therefore become dependent on those channels of ebook distribution for their content. They don’t go into stores and are not very likely to shop in online environments that feature ebooks and print books. Ebookstores on ebook reading devices sell only ebooks. Print is not part of the experience. …
The most important lesson I can convey to book publishing professionals is that they must understand that those of us who have made the transition to ebooks, buy ebooks, not print books. Ebook reading device users don’t shop in bookstores and then decide what edition they want; ebook device readers buy what is available in ebookstores. Search an ebookstore for a title and if it doesn’t come up, it doesn’t exist – no matter how many versions are available in print.
I think there is a lot of truth in this. Since I have owned my first Kindle I have rarely, very rarely, bought a paper book, and I bet it is the same for most ereading people. If the ebook is not in an ebookstore I won’t buy the hard cover. I’ll wait for it to come out in e format and if it doesn’t I won’t buy it at all.