E-books multiply, but who’s reading them? is the headline over a formulaic Christian Science Monitor story—complete with an E-skeptical quote from a p-bookseller in the lead. All that’s missing is, "Can you read ’em in the bathtub?"
Sadly, Clayton Collins, the reporter, plays up the negative rather than than dwelling on the more interesting facts he uncovered, such as that almost half of Fictionwise‘s sales are from romances. In other words, while growth continues, the audience is extending beyond the male technogeeks. HarperCollins’ release of Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover, a romance with embedded video, is just one indication of this
Although e-books are still just a speck of the market, progress is happening in areas such as a standardized format, and some people at major publishers are even starting to understand the damage that DRM has inflicted on e-book sales. Jeff Gomez, author of Print Is Dead, who’s about to start new Net-related duties at Penguin, might have had a few choice words to share with Collins on DRM and other topics. DRM is a major sales toxin. Just ask Dr. Ellen Hage, author of a new essay headlined "Why does DRM really exist?" Take away DRM—really more of a protection for proprietary formats than the intellectual property rights of authors and publishers—and sales of e-books from large publishers will get a nice bump.
Disappointing blog post from Richard Curtis
Speaking of Jeff’s Print Is Dead book, Richard Curtis, the normally clueful owner of eReads, seems to have taken the title a bit too literally. Jeff isn’t denying the existence of billions of dollars in p-book sales; he’s simply talking about long-term trends. And all along, of course, Jeff maintains, as I do, that digtal books are, well, books.
Also of interest today may be further, detailed impressions of the new Sony Reader from MobileRead‘s Bob Russell and news of a new beta of Mobipocket for the Blackberry. Plus, Bridgestone has a new A3 4,096-color display out.
P as a global warmer
Finally, in the wake of CaféScribe.com‘s stats on the environmental effects of p-books, there’s discussion in the U.K. based on earlier studies (via James Bridle at BookTwo.org). In the Times Educational supplement, David Reay writes: "In terms of its contribution to global warming, UK publishing in effect puts an extra 100,000 cars on our roads. Our esteemed seats of learning are a sizeable cog in this engine: the average undergraduate buys at least three volumes per course, while most academic offices are crammed from floor to ceiling with dusty tomes…"
(Christian Science Monitor article spotted via LISNews and MobileRead, where Liviu_5 notes a little tidbit in the Monitor article—namely that Fictionwise feels that Sony’s Reader marketing has helped the industry as a whole. I agree.)