eBooks – electronic copies of what otherwise would be paper-based publications – have been pretty quiet of late, after an initial burst of enthusiasm a couple of years ago. At least one retailer, Barnes and Noble in the US, stopped selling eBooks last year.
But eBooks were worth $US10 million last year, a drop in the ocean of course compared to the offline busines, but it’s gradually growing. Pundits are saying that it just needs a good eBook reader to come on the market, and sales will take off. Pretty much the same as iPod did for music downloads.
“Unlike music, the book business’s core demographic is older and female and not drawn to piracy. But the fear of “Napsterisation” has led to rather stringent DRM measures in e- publishing. Rogaty suggests things are beginning to settle down, with companies recognising that the right to use ebooks in certain ways is important to consumers.
“Another thing we need is a really good retail experience,” he adds. “What Apple has done with the iPod, the iTunes software and the iTunes store is amazingly good. We need an equivalent in the ebook industry.”