In January, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s iPad tablet that, among other things, digitally accesses and stores many books that can be read on a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad follows the great success of Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle, which can hold up to 1500 books. This has led to speculation that these and subsequent e-readers mark the turning point in the market for hard copy books. I do believe that e-readers foretell an enormous change in the book publishing industry.
I do not expect the market for hard copy books to decline rapidly at first, but decline it will, as e-books substitute increasingly for hard copy books. The competition offered by e-books will increase as the prices of Kindles, iPads, and other e-readers fall from their present levels of over $250 for Kindles, and $499 and up for iPad tablets (these tablets are far more than just e-readers). Within a few years, the most basic e-reader models will sell for considerably under $100, and they will become much easier to use.