People who pay attention to publishing trends are familiar with an oft-repeated fear within the industry: e-book sales will cannibalize p-book sales.
Schnittman has a different take on the situation:
Ebooks aren’t cannibalizing print books — consumers with ebook reading devices are, as a rule, no longer buying print books.I think he's absolutely right. One of my reading friends--those few people whom I absolutely trust when they recommend a new book or author--is a guy who bought a Kindle about six months ago. He's developed what I regard as a very annoying habit. When I mention a book I like, he asks, "Is it available as an e-book?"
While I started out by saying, "Don't know; don't care," these days I'll admit I've taken to checking so I can respond appropriately when he asks.
And the Kindle has changed his reading habits. He's reading more books. Not because he loves the experience of an e-reader (although he would say he does). I believe he's reading more books because he is now able to fit more reading time into his life. He takes the Kindle to his gym and reads while he's on the stationary bike. Where he used to read magazines or a newspaper on the train on his way to and from work, he's reading more books. The Kindle goes where he goes.
Schnittman said in his post:
They [e-reader owners] don’t go into stores and are not very likely to shop in online environments that feature ebooks and print books. Ebookstores on ebook reading devices sell only ebooks. Print is not part of the experience.I called my friend earlier today to ask about this. He acknowledged that he only goes into a bricks-and-mortar bookstore when he's with someone who wants to go in. He said when he sees a book he's interested in at B&N or Half Price Books, he makes note of it so he can purchase it for his Kindle.
I pointed out that if he sees an older book in Half Price Books, it may not be possible to find it for the Kindle. In those cases, does he buy the p-book? His response surprised me a bit. "So far I haven't. I can always find an e-book I'd like to read instead."
If Schnittman is right ... and, based on my friend's experience, he appears to be ... Mike Shatzkin was completely on target in that quote from yesterday:
... it no longer made any sense to have a separate strategy for ebooks: digital had instead to be at the heart of a more general publishing strategy.Go here to read Evan Schnittman's entire post. It's well worth your time.