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The Very Short History of e-Books

E-Readers were not exactly a hit when they were introduced in the 1990s – maybe to a general skepticism about the technology, maybe to their high prices and clumsy technology?

Only after the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader with their more book-like appearance thanks to e-ink technology, were launched in 2007, that the device and subsequently with it, e-books really took off.

 

Kindle and Hardcover Book
Kindle and Hardcover Book

From then on sales of e-books rocketed more than 1,000 percent over the next  years, from only $32 million in 2006 to $441 million in 2010, to more than $1 billion, prognosed for 2011. If it would not be for some of the big publishing houses with their reluctance to e-books and fixed-price requirements in countries like Japan or Germany, the numbers could be double already.

Now book stores and publishers are going to have to reinvent themselves, as every book ever written being stored at virtually no cost and delivered instantly on demand. Why would consumers need all the hassle of limited store hours, crowded parking lots and out-of-stock titles.  And why should stores return almost half of new books, just because they are not sold in big numbers within a few months? Imagine the impact on resources and the environment that was caused by this practice within the last 60 years.

Why do authors need a publisher? Why don’t they just sign directly with Amazon, cutting out the middlemen – as more and more bestseller authors are doing –  and receiving ten times the royalty? Or even one step further as J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series does, offering the e-books on her own website, yielding 100% of the e-book proceeds.

 

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