Rewriting the Ebook Strory

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Rewriting the Ebook Story

one of my favorite things about flying is reading for hours at a stretch and I saved two good books for traveling to and from the Buying & Selling eContent conference in Arizona this year. I had some work to do, so I was pretty sure they’d last me the entire trip. It can be pretty disappointing to face hours in the air with nothing to read except Sky Mall. Of course, this is a wicked old school travel entertainment strategy—one that the editor of EContent should have moved well beyond. Yet, while I want an e-reader, I haven’t found the device that’s quite right for me. In flight and around airports, I saw many e-readers and felt envy pangs. It took restraint (something I’m not known for) not to do some unofficial user surveys. I did eavesdrop on some techno show-and-tell in which e-reader owners did impromptu demos for fellow travelers. So my existing interest had climbed significantly by the time I attended the conference’s Sunday ebook forum led by SKS Advisors’ founder Steve Sieck. Panelists included Lindsey E. Schell, collection management, University of Texas Libraries; Scott Brown, owner, Social Information Group; Chris Palma, strategic partner development, Google Books; Eric Freese, solutions architect, digital publishing, Aptara; and George Scotti, channel marketing director, Springer Science+Business Media. Ebooks have moved out of the niches and into the mainstream, and this panel demonstrated how players of all types are examining the opportunities they present. Not surprisingly, one of the primary concerns forum attendees expressed is confusion given the number of devices and competing standards on the market. Another issue is speculation that Amazon has put the industry in jeopardy because its $9.99 ebook price is too low to sustain publishing. This reminds me of when the music business failed to lower CD prices and refocus on producing products worth paying for, not to mention today’s...