Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tree-Book

Here's what was in my urban dictionary alert this morning, tree-book.  As opposed to what?  Well e-books of course. According to UD, a tree book, is printed on dead trees, i.e. paper, as opposed to an e-book, which exists electronically.   I'm interested in getting a job at Elsevier here in Philly so I've been reading up on the publishing industry and I'm very curious about the impact that Apple's much-anticipated iPad (due to launch this Saturday, April 3!) will have.

No surprise that big publishers are flocking to distribute electronic versions of their bestselling books on the iPad.  And even smaller houses are making the move, like the self-publishing service Smashwords.  Yes, e-books are upon us even in the self-published world.  But doesn't it make you wonder how this new channel will impact the publishing industry?  Well, how about school text books for starters.  Those big expensive missives represented a significant outlay of my meager student income to say nothing of my outlay for my three college-educated daughters. 

The technology will make e-books not only readily available (just use your PayPal account and download it), they'll also be cheaper.  According to an article in Digital Beat by Dean Takahashi, Apple requires the price must also be less than the print counterpart. The distribution cost to get the book on the iPad is free.

So how will this technology effect the publishing houses' profit margins, and their shipping and printing vendors, in fact, the structure of the publishing business itself?  I think given the cost difference between buying books online versus buying them offline, especially when it comes to higher education requirements, it is going to be cheaper over all for us to buy an iPad and buy our books on line.

The ramifications to the publishing industry are well, lots of change.  How will they adapt?  What steps are they taking now?  Of course with the ability to self-publish (and the growth in this category), do we even need the screening and acceptance process that established book publishers provide?  Then there is this other question about how book stores themselves will adapt and libraries.  What do you think? 

For me, as a consumer, I'll enjoy the lower cost plus the convenience and immediate gratification of downloading the most recent James Patterson novel, but I'll miss being able to write in the margins.  Writing in the margins is probably over-rated.

photo source: Thanks Kristen - http://cheydog44.wordpress.com/bookish-things/
additional reading: NYTimes, "In E-Book Era, You Can't Even Judge a Cover", http://nyti.ms/9jGuxe and University handing out iPads to students http://tinyurl.com/yflfx6d and E-book prices to rise as Amazon, Sony adopt agency model - http://arst.ch/hwx