As well as experiencing exponential growth over the past 12 months, the e-book industry is undergoing a transition that is shaping its makeup from the inside out.
From the research we’ve conducted to create our white-paper “The Rise of the e-book”, it appears the shape of the e-book market is dictated by a convergence of e-book content and the devices that support them. These dual forces can mean the marketplace isn’t always the easiest to map, however current research suggests that both elements will encourage the migration of consumers from dedicated e-reading devices to tablets.
According to estimates in the 2011 Publishers Launch conference book, tablet devices have outsold e-readers by as much as two to one since last Christmas. Tellingly, these estimates have coincided with a decrease in new e-reader devices being launched, alongside more than a few rumblings from Amazon HQ that the previous eReader stalwarts may venture into the tablet market this year.
This hardware shake-up isn’t easy to pin to one factor alone, however the increasing affordability, consumer awareness and
understanding of tablet devices and their functionality are all likely playing a big part.
On the other side of the coin, innovation in e-book content and formatting is also favouring tablet consumption, with dedicated e-readers less suited to these developments.
If we take illustrated books as an example, the e-ink display of devices such Kindle cannot provide a faithful representation of illustrated content, let alone any audio and video content that might be used. In contrast, not only do the new wave of tablet devices offer a HD colour display to support the new features associated with e-books, innovation such as the fixed-layout format – which prevents re-flowable text and a loss of page formatting – increases the tools available for publishers, and expands the range of books suitable for the digital market.
What this all boils down to therefore is a broadening definition of what e-reading means. As the widening boundaries of the e-book’s capabilities become more accepted as the norm by consumers, the functionality of the e-ink reader is going to appear ever-increasingly limited.
This is not to say the e-reader will fall into obscurity overnight; the Kindle still commands a huge share of the market as well as a large base of fans who may be reluctant to give up on their investment. But beyond these existing consumers, we may be seeing the beginnings of the e-readers transition from a huge consumer product to a niche device for e-ink purists, with tablets set to gain the ground in between.
For more insight on this topic, alongside further discussion of the e-book industry view the white-paper online at http://www.yudupro.com/e-book_whitepaper or on the iPad/iPhone by downloading the YUDU Media App and selecting ‘e-book Report.’