Advancing a Free Society

Are e-Readers the Beginning of the End for Books?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

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.

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