Sunday, 8 April 2012

09:25 – Today, Christians world-wide gather to celebrate the resurrection of the Easter Bunny. The fact that there is absolutely zero evidence that the Easter Bunny ever actually lived, let alone died and was resurrected, is apparently no impediment.

Interesting article on CNN about the boom in ebooks. The article ignores, as most do, the really significant factor: that the 90/10 rule applies in spades to ebooks and ereaders. That is, 10% of the readers read 90% of the books. Serious readers–those who read, say, 50 or more books a year–have migrated overwhelmingly to ereaders and ebooks. These readers as a group still read pbooks, but they buy very few of them. Most are borrowed from the library or friends, and when they do buy a new book it’s generally a paperback from an airport shop because they need something to read until they can recharge their Kindles. And if they do buy a new fiction hardback, it’s almost certainly from Amazon rather than a local bookstore. The entire traditional publishing infrastructure is disappearing, being replaced by the new ebook infrastructure. This is really good news for authors and really, really bad news for publishers, agents, bookstores, and the rest of traditional publishing.

The other sea change is the shift of books themselves from the scarcity model to the abundance model. In the Bad Olde Days, Barbara and I kept close eyes on our to-be-read piles because we didn’t want to run out of things to read. Nowadays, although we still have pbook TBR piles, there’s really no need for them. We have virtual TBR piles that contain millions of ebooks, all available with a few mouse clicks. We can read whatever we want to read, whenever we want to read it. Which also means we can be a lot pickier about what we choose to read. If we start a book and it turns out to be mediocre or worse, there’s no need to continue reading it just because it’s what we happen to have available. We can abandon it and move on to something better.

Nor need our virtual library be expensive. There are now literally hundreds of thousands of ebooks out there priced from $0.99 to $3 or $4, and that’s assuming we pay Amazon for them rather than simply download free ebooks, many of which are as good or better than the pay-for ebooks. In fact, a significant percentage of the free ebooks are pay-for titles that are temporarily given away to promote them and their authors. Barbara and I could both read every waking moment for the rest of our lives without putting even a small dent in the currently available titles, let alone the flood of new titles being released every day. In short, having new good stuff to read is now a solved problem.