I was happy to pick up this comment from Mike Shatzkin on the Idea Logical blog. He was referring to an article in the Wall Street Journal regarding Sourcebooks and delaying ebook releases:
"My quote, by the way, was to the effect that ebook readers and print book readers are increasingly separate markets, which I believe to be true but cannot prove. A C-level friend at a large house disagrees with me, as I’m sure many others do, and my evidence on this is highly anecdotal (including myself: I have read one printed book of the 50 or so I’ve read in the past 18 months.) But my friend would have no more evidence than I to support his contrary position, so publishers will have to make decisions without really knowing, for now, whether they can push a Kindle or Shortcovers or Ereader consumer back to paper by denying or delaying a book."
Mike is a man I admire. I've heard him speak several times and he makes unbelievable sense! The more I read and breathe ebooks, the more I believe they will be separate markets for publishers. Some readers will definitely migrate to a new way of reading and storing content, whether it be on the iPhone, the laptop, an e-reader - the format is for the consumer to decide. And by opening up technology, a new generation is likely to appear. Whether it's the print or the electronic, there are limitations with all formats. The reading experiences will vary. I believe many people true to the printed book will stay that way. And I think the e-reader invites a new reader onboard.
Personally I see the ebook reader as being a wonderful companion when travelling - airports, planes, hotel rooms. Lots of choice at my finger tips (and hopefully the ability to recharge the battery when I need to!) However I don't see it as a wonderful companion when I'm soaking in the tub after a long day travelling and the thought of having the battery run out along the way would be awful. It's my mobile phone and digital camera nightmares all over again!
For the rest of the world, I'm excited for students, for busy professionals, the publishing industry. In many ways e-readers present solutions. But for others, they may be just another gadget that gets used in the early days and put aside later. Who knows? Maybe it will come full circle...