Wed 18 Mar 2015
Ever since Amazon brought out their first kindle e-book reader in 2007, the techno gurus hyped the rise of e-books to the extent of predicting that print items would soon disappear altogether and were doomed for oblivion. The large majority of learning technologists anticipated the end of books and prints (including newspapers) and invented more and more arguments in favour of the innumerable benefits e-books bring to learning. It now seems they have been guessing wrong.
New studies reveal that the e-book revolution has come to a somewhat unexpected grinding halt. Despite the pervasive availability of e-book readers and apps, the market seems saturated and sales are stalling. In the US, where sales stagnate since the first quarter of 2012, the market share of e-books lies at 30%. In Germany, it is even lower, and just reached 4.3% of the book market – hardly disruptive!
Analysts have found several reasons for this downturn, among other things the lack of value for money. At practically the same price as the printed version, e-books have a much more restricted use. You can’t lend it to friends, nor sell it on or even put it in a “Little Free Library” for sharing. Anything you do with it – other than reading – is considered piracy.
Another limitation is that many people don’t want to be dependent on battery life or carry yet another charging cable to their holiday destination and back. Being surrounded by technology at the work place may also lead to an urge to disconnect.
I would add to this the lack of haptic value and ownership. It’s nicer to wrap a book into gift paper than an e-book voucher. It’s nicer to hold your own book in hands than a rented vision of a book.