Earlier this year I wrote a blog entry entitled Year of the e-Book. Indeed it has been a very popular year for people trying or switching to ebooks. In the recently published article Top Trends of 2010: Growth of eBooks & eReaders, author Richard MacManus states that “eBook sales almost doubled over 2010 and now make up 9% of total consumer book sales”.
Although this is significant, there is still a long way to go before ebooks become widely accepted. I’ve owned my Kindle for a year now and my son has a Sony, so from personal experience, two bookworms from different generations were able to make the switch and love the experience. When I ask people if they’ve considered one of the ebook readers, they tell me that they would never be able to give up the feel of an actual book in their hands. My answer to this is that most of us have converted from snail mail to email, so the conversion from printed books to ebooks will happen eventually, but it will need people to first step outside their comfort zone.
One of the things I really liked about Richard’s article was his comparison between printed books and ebooks. I’ve copied his pros & cons here to add my own opinions:
1. Social Highlighting
3. Look-up of words
4. Ability to Tweet & Facebook quotes
I’ve used all of these features on my kindle, but would like to add that my favourite features are 1) the ability to get sample books. When I’m out with people and we’re discussing books that we recommend, I can easily build a wish list of books by getting sample chapters for free from amazon.com. On a recent vacation, I read 5 of the samples that I had recently downloaded and decided that 4 of the 5 were books that I was interested in reading further. 2) The price of a new release in kindle format is much cheaper than the hardcover. Along with this is the weight. My wrists hurt when reading those heavy hard cover books! So now I don’t need to wait for the paperback or trade version of the book, I can read it inexpensively and weightlessly on my kindle!
5. Second-hand books
I still share books with others… mostly other people lending me their printed books. I will still pick up used books when I see one that I’d like to read. But for me, most of the books I’ll buy it the future will be gifts or keepsakes. At the IOD conference I was able to get books signed by the authors. Even though I already owned e-versions of these books, I purchased the printed copies to get their signature. I purchased a few as gifts as well. One guy had the Freakonomics authors sign his Kindle in permanent marker!!
There are so many choices for e-readers now and the prices appear to be dropping, so I presume many people will be getting these as gifts this Christmas. If you do get one, step outside your comfort zone and give it an honest try. You might learn that you like it… like I did!
How about technical books? Well, I’ve noticed that some of the kindle sample books for technical books are not perfect yet. One book I downloaded, I ended up with only the Front Matter. I guess looking at the TOC is important, but I wanted to see what the chapters and diagrams looked like. I contacted the publisher to suggest that they fix this.
Not all publishers have put their books in Kindle format. There are still issues that need to be worked through with the profits and graphics quality. The ipad fixes the graphics quality… so that might make technical ebooks more accepted.
From my perspective, all of our books are in electronic format. Really if you think about it, IBM has been a leader in electronic formats for information. IBM Redbooks have been a major source of high quality content for forty years now. Product documentation with IBM products such as DB2 has been delivered in electronic format through the Information Center or online help for more than 10 years now. Our published books are made available in Books 24x7 and Safari Books Online which are electronic book libraries. IBM subscribes to Books 24x7 meaning that all IBM employees can access published books electronically, at no charge. All IBM Press books and all of our Certification Study Guides are available in Kindle format as well as epub format that can be used on any e-reading device.
Check out another blog entry I wrote entitled “The Mainstreaming of e-Books” that gives a bit more information about some of the e-readers. Also check out my blog entry from yesterday “DB2 on Campus Book Series” which is a set of books that are only available in electronic format.