“Death of the ebook” pronouncements premature?

Jim McClellan says the market for electronic books is growing, slowly but significantly:

Nick Rogaty, executive director of the [Open eBook Forum], admits that the number of ebooks sold is still a tiny fraction of the overall book business. But the figures show that electronic publishing is slowly growing into a viable business. The exit of Barnes and Noble and Gemstar was, he suggests, “because their parent companies are under pressure to achieve profitability. So they moved to stick with their bread-and-butter business”….

Ditching the obsessive focus on the idea of the ebook might also help e-publishing grow. When people talk about an ebook, they’re usually thinking about a digital version of a novel or a biography. The problem is, these types of reading experience work best in print (at the moment).

However, there are other types of reading and other types of “books” that are better suited to electronic formats and are very successful. As Toby Mundy, managing director/publisher at Atlantic Books (publishers of Guardian books, among others), points out, we have already seen massive upheaval as a result of new technology. “Looking round my room,” he says, “I can see all sorts of books… but what I can’t see, and I would have seen a decade ago, is any reference books. I now use reputable brands like Britannica online.”


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