The transformation of the book industry: Disappearing ink

13. September 2011

Date: 13-09-2011
Source: The Economist

Readers have never had it so good. But publishers need to adapt better to the digital world

DURING the next few weeks publishers will release a crush of books, pile them onto delivery lorries and fight to get them on the display tables at the front of bookshops in the run-up to Christmas. It is an impressive display of competitive commercial activity. It is also increasingly pointless.

More quickly than almost anyone predicted, e-books are emerging as a serious alternative to the paper kind. Amazon, comfortably the biggest e-book retailer, has lowered the price of its Kindle e-readers to the point where people do not fear to take them to the beach. In America, the most advanced market, about one-fifth of the largest publishers’ sales are of e-books. Newly released blockbusters may sell as many digital copies as paper ones. The proportion is growing quickly, not least because many bookshops are closing. Read the rest of this entry »