Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E-books versus p-books - an evolving story

The relatively short history of e-books has been interesting to watch. It's yet another example of how difficult it is to predict the public's taste for new technology.  Take digital time pieces for instance. Reason would suggest that digital clocks and watches should have long ago replaced their analog counterparts because the digital devices are more accurate and cheaper to produce.  Yet the public still really likes the old analog technology.  Even though it's an old technology, for many (most?) people, it's a better tool for showing at a glance how much time has passed and how much is left.

It seems to be the same thing with p-books versus e-books. Logic would dictate that e-books should have buried p-books by now. E-books are cheaper and much more convenient to lug around. Yet the p-book is proving to be extremely resilent, surprisingly so among digital natives who have repeatedly told pollsters they prefer hardcopy textbooks to electronic ones.  There's something about the physicality of a p-book that makes it more appealing to many people.

Nevertheless, according to this story, Amazon is predicting 2012 will be the break-out year for the Kindle and e-book sales in general. According to the Business Insider:

Amazon's Kindle business is about to contribute 10% of the company's overall revenue, says Citi analyst Mark Mahaney.

Mahaney estimates Kindle unit sales for 2011 to be 17.5 million, which is $2.1 billion in revenue. He estimates eBook sales to be 314 million units, which is $1.7 billion. Combined that's 8% of Amazon's 2011 revenue. 

For 2012, he sees Amazon selling 26 million Kindles and 751.5 million eBooks. Combined those sales would be $6.1 billion, or 10% of Amazon's revenue. (Mahaney expects a sub-$100 Kindle by year end to drive sales.)

So, is the public ready to fully embrace digital books in a way that it hasn't done with digital clocks and watches? Who knows. But the safe bet is that we'll likely see both formats continue to exist side-by side for a while still.
On an unrelated note - thanks to all my co-bloggers for holding down the fort the past week or so.

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