There’s been a joke for some time about the coming E-book Overlords, but it turns out the E-book Overlords are US. WE are the ones buying the ebooks, changing our minds about ereaders once we have them in our hands, rushing out to by Kindles by the millions per week.
Because ebooks are cheaper (sometimes, and sometimes not), faster (instant gratification!), and in many ways have a real advantage over paper books (disadvantages too, but the massive adoption is evidence of a net WIN in that war). Note, this advantage is for READERS, although there are many advantages for writers as well. In fact, with traditional publishers keeping their ebook prices high, they are actually increasing the exposure of self-published authors by ceding the low-priced ebook market to them. Over the last year, this has given rise to the self-publishing revolution (which has been getting lots of press lately), with self-published titles climbing the bestseller charts as readers chose this lower-priced option.
Across the board, it is the advantage to READERS that has driven the change.
The thing about REAL change is that it isn’t just self-sustaining (especially where technology is concerned). It is self-accelerating.
“I love my new Kindle, but now I can’t get an autograph from my favorite author!”
“My Nook is great, but I could never give it to my kids. I’m too afraid they’d drop it.”
Answer: $99 Nook Simple
And then there’s the things you didn’t know you needed until someone else has it. A month ago, I realized that I could gift e-books on Amazon! Right next to the “buy” link was a “give as gift” link – all I had to do was click that, provide an email address for the receiver, and off my e-book present went! Talk about last-minute shopping! And without the tarnish of just giving a gift card (I have a love/hate relationship with gift cards).
But I don’t have a Kindle. My whole family (grandmas, grandpas, cousins, nieces, kids) – they all have Nooks. Why? Because I was an early adopter and if they got Nooks, they could LendMe ebooks. This value-add was enough to convert them to the Nook family. But Barnes&Noble sadly trails after Amazon in many e-book areas, and gifting was one of them. I went to my local B&N and complained to the poor Nook salesman, who looked beleaguered until I finally gave up. Then, just as I was about to despair for this Christmas (and perhaps not coincidentally after I’d already bought my paperbook gifts), Nook suddenly has e-book gifting capability!
The rate of change has been astounding, but when something offers a real improvement, there’s always someone out there tweaking it, making it better, fixing the problems before you have time to get a good head of steam to complain about them. If only this were true of things like the Department of Motor Vehicles and the United States Space Program! Ah, but those are government programs, not the Wild West of the free market. (And I digress…)
Free market. Creative Destruction. Free flow of information. These are the things that allow innovation to occur, and I believe we should embrace rather than fear it. Tommorrow, in my final post of 2011, I’ll talk about embracing this change and how to move forward into a brighter 2012.