The influence of e-books on the publishing industry is enormous. E-reading has completely changed the way customers used to choose and purchase books. The same is true in the relations to the book availability and prices. In fact, all aspects connected with book sale and distribution have undergone significant changes. Therefore, the emergence of e-books has shocked the traditional book market and led to the enormous changes in people’s reading habits and practices.
We will define strong and weak sides of e-books and dwell on their practical value for the society and environment. In addition, we will analyze the emotional, psychological and commercial aspects of reading and various changes caused by the introduction of e-books.
The tasks of the research are to examine the recent statistics, showing the customers’ attitude toward the e-books, analyze the new trends in publishing industry and suggest probable strategies for developing publishing houses.
The Effect of E-Books on Publishers
Without doubt, the publishing industry remains well developed and maintained nowadays. It does not seem to be changed under the influence of different cultural or social movements. Nevertheless, the emergence of e-book has considerably reduced its popularity and efficiency. Since publishers were not ready to deal with the new massive technological changes, they need to search for alternative way now. In 2011, during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the representatives of various publishing houses agreed that plenty of changes had taken place just in two years. It means that the traditional reading market calls for the immediate changes and innovations.
In fact, the empirical data serve as the best support for the idea of impact of e-books on the publishing industry. Thus, it is estimated that the number of bookstores has been reduced from 20,000 twenty years ago to 2,000 two years ago. Such statistics witness the decreasing popularity of book distributors and the reducing of their role in the society.
Secondly, the representatives of publishing houses expected e-reading to influence the sphere of non-fiction only. However, their expectations failed to succeed. The researches show that e-readers tend to buy and read more fiction literature than ever before. The researchers have examined that customers perceive PDF formats as the substitute to the traditional printed versions of books (Kannan, Pope, and Jain 620). Therefore, we can see that the role of e-books has spread on both fiction and non-fiction literature.
Y. Hu and M. D. Smith (2013) have conducted the following experiment in order to discuss the impact of e-books on the market. According to their experiment, several big publishers refused the idea of releasing e-book versions for about six months. The purpose of this research was to investigate the relations between the digital and traditional channels of releasing books. Surprisingly, the researchers find that the lack of digital versions of books has led to the general reduction in the number of customers. It is also true in the relations to the amounts of overall hardcover sales. Thus, we can assume that traditional way of distributing books continues to lose its popularity and value.
The influence of e-reading on the traditional publishing market can be also traced on the example of Amazon.com. Since 2007, there has been a significant increase in the sales of e-books. For example, the number of sold e-books was approximately 90 million exemplars in 2010. This statistics have grown by 202% in 2011. Additionally, the libraries expanded their e-book collections by 60% in 2008 (Saylor 124). It means that readers have become more familiar with the new technologies and applied to their convenience and comfort.
Nowadays, the spreading of e-books can be considered as the threat to the existence of traditional publishing market (Bounie et al. 52). It can be explained by a number of reasons. Firstly, e-books are cheap and steadily available for everyone. Very often, traditional publishers postpone the release of some unpopular books for a year in order to put aside some costs. In the case of e-reading, all of the books find their immediate release on the market.
Secondly, e-books possess a high portability. They are convenient to use and carry during the travels. It is the other factor that attracts customers and reduces the popularity of traditional publishers. Moreover, e-books do not harm the environment and remain eco-friendly. This factor is paramount in terms of hectic development of the modern world. In other words, the benefits of the usage of e-books are obvious as well as their increasing popularity. On the one hand, such position ruins the reputation and value of traditional publishing houses. On the other hand, it can be viewed as a challenge for the publishers and the call to innovate the publishing industry.
Nowadays, publishing companies try to suggest low prices, organize literary forums and meetings with the writers in order to attract the customers’ attention and achieve higher hardcover sales. To some extent, such measures help to prevent the spread of digital technologies. Nevertheless, it seems unbelievable that e-reading would ever lose its significance and value.
As a result, we can conclude that e-reading has considerably impacted the traditional publishing industries and the way of selling books. Such a position is explained by the variety of factors highlighting the advantages of digital books. In any case, we cannot speak about the complete decline of publishing. Still, many publishing houses try to introduce reforms and accept the e-books as a part of their industry.
The Effect of E-Books on Customers
The appearance of e-books has influenced not only the publishing industry but also the readers’ preferences and practices. As we have already mentioned, e-reading attracts plenty of readers and encourages people to read more books, comparing with the traditional market. Moreover, customers tend to trust e-books and choose digital formats more often than hardcover exemplars. Nevertheless, such a position can lead to both positive and negative outcomes in terms of customers’ habits and ways of buying books.
To starts with, it is important to mention that these changes are connected with the psychological perception of books. The understanding of traditional books involves the participation of all senses, including vision, touch, vibration, smell. In addition, people can feel the book weight, width and size. The psychologists suggest that the involvement of all senses contributes to the quick and long-lasting memorizing and full comprehending of the content.
On the contrary, the content of e-books is perceived only by the organs of vision. As a result, people tend to remember less information and keep it in mind for a shorter period, comparing with the paper books. Furthermore, customers consider e-books to be always available and accessible. As a result, they do not even try to memorize them properly since it is possible to consult with them at any moment.
Thus, from the psychological point of view, e-books do not provide great reliability and trustiness. They distract people’s attention from the important details and prevent the complete perception of the text. Therefore, the psychologists argue that e-books are not suitable for the serious readings and analysis.
Secondly, reading e-books calls for using corresponding devices. Obviously, all digital formats are available on personal computer. However, if we speak about the high portability of e-books, we mean other gadgets, specially developed for reading. In fact, the statistics show that people are ready to buy electronic devices in order to read favorite books in digital formats. This case emphasizes the triumph of technologies over the traditional materials. Thus, readers do not tend to buy hardcover exemplars as the digital formats are steadily available for them.
The other change in the readers’ behavior is connected with the shift of interests. According to the recent researches, people tend to expand their reading interests and buy e-books related to various fields and disciplines. Moreover, e-reading leads to the increase of popularity of fiction literature. In my opinion, such a situation can be explained by the price of e-books. Since they are cheaper than the paper exemplars, people are able to buy more books in the same period.
Thus, e-books provide people with many new opportunities and possibilities. Digital books are always accessible and less expensive than the paper ones. Moreover, they serve as a part of the technological and scientific progress, which is so topical in terms of modern world.
Not surprisingly, many customers tend to apply to the digital formats of books rather than to paper exemplars. Despite some drawbacks connected with the e-books, the advantages and benefits of their usage are obvious, as well.
The Future of the Traditional Reading Market
In fact, the future of publishing industry depends on the attitude toward digital books. On the one hand, their appearance can be viewed as the cannibalization of the traditional market. In this case, the paper exemplars are supposed to be sold in case the digital versions are absent. However, the publishers can consider e-books to be a brilliant chance for the expansion of publishing industry. For example, publishers may distribute both paper and digital versions in order to satisfy the demands of different customers (Li 32).
Actually, it is a good strategy for the publishing companies to accept the e-books. With their help, publishers may encourage people to read books of new authors and writers they may not have otherwise read. Moreover, the co-existence of printed and digital books is quite possible, considering the fact that each type of book is suitable for various readers and customers.
In fact, it is impossible for the publishing companies to remain stable in such a changeable world. Thus, they can accept the e-books as the essential part of their industry and renovate the sphere of publishing in general. Actually, any company needs to orient on the demands of the customers. In terms of the popularity of e-reading, the publishing houses simply cannot neglect such an opportunity.
To sum up, the appearance of e-books has significantly affected the activities of publishing houses and readers’ habits and preferences. E-books have brought both positive and negative consequences in the sphere of reading. Among their benefits, it is possible to name its lower price, high portability, permanent availability, great variety to choose from, credibility and safety for the environment. At the same time, e-books represent a number of drawbacks, such as the need to buy special technical devices and the lack of psychological perception and memorization.
The statistics show that the emergence of e-books has led to the shift in the reading interests and the appearance of a greater readership. In fact, e-books significantly encourage people to read new books and discover new authors and writers.
When speaking about the publishing houses, they can also gain advantages from e-books. For example, publishers may introduce the distribution and selling of different versions of books and combine the paper and digital formats. In my opinion, the combination of technological and traditional aspects in the industry is the essential feature of the modern world, and the publishing houses should not lose the opportunity to expand the scopes of their activities.