It was bound to happen. The record industry was forced to adapt when iTunes came along. Reluctant film studios made the jump to Netflix and other streaming services. And now, with tablets selling at mind-boggling rates, book publishers are scrambling to figure out how to bring their ancient medium into the digital realm.
All the usual fears about moving into the 21st century spook the book
companies, just as they did when younger industries made the leap.
“The conversation a year ago was, ‘Oh my god you’re going to kill my
book sales’ and ‘You can’t release e-books simultaneously’ and ‘Don’t do
an app, no one will buy my book if the app is $2.99!’” said Lorena
Jones, the publishing director behind Chronicle Books‘ digital initiatives, in an interview with Wired at the company’s San Francisco office.
Now book publishers know they must evolve: 21 percent of Americans say they’ve read an e-book, according to a Pew Internet study released last week, and the Association of American Publishers says 114 million e-books were sold in 2010
(the most recent year for which numbers are available). Some 48.3
million iPads, Android tablets and e-readers were sold to U.S. consumers
in 2011, and about half that many were sold the year before, according
to NPD Group. With so many tablets flooding the market, demand for e-books is only going to grow.