karen_w_newton (karen_w_newton) wrote,

Has the camel's nose entered the ebook tent?

A couple of interesting things happened recently. For one thing, Amazon, not given to revealing sales data except when it suits them, announced that for the last three months they have sold 50% more Kindle books than hardcover books. No mention was made of how either total compares to paperback books, however.

Now, Amazon is not that big in terms of the total book market (between 15 and 20%, last I heard). And I've never seen any numbers on what percentage of hardcovers are sold by Amazon versus in bookstores. Therefore, it's hard to know how significant that numbers is; possibly it's merely intended to strike fear into publishers' hearts. In another part of the story, it says that the growth rate for Kindle sales tripled when they dropped the price below $200. (I am wondering what what growth rate this period was compared to) Plenty of folks seem impressed with these numbers. The NY Times story on it agrees they're significant.

But another announcement may prove even more portentous. Book Publisher Penguin is in a partnership with Starz cable TV channel to create an amplifed ebook version of Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth. Starz is releasing a miniseries of the story, and this ebook version, which will run only on the iPad (and soon the iPhone and iTouch) includes an admittedly neat-sounding “character tree” that looks like a stained glass window and grows as you read the book, illuminating characters names and relationships; other special features are strictly TV-tied: the author's Multimedia Diary, about his impressions during filming; other folks' insights into the making of the series; some music (hymns, soundtrack themes, and battlefield scene scores); and (of course) video clips.

Movies and TV already dwarf books as an industry, so I see this an interesting and potentially scary development. As ebooks grow in market share, does technology hold the end of the plain old “text” book? I hope not. But stay tuned.

And by the way, if you have not read it, TPotE is a good book, with or without the stained-glass character tree!

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Tags: e-books, ebooks, publishing, technology

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