An article in Adweek about the brands that are expected to die next year listed Nook among those brands. To many following ebook news, this was no shocker.
What was a shocker was this statement:
“In the realm of consumer electronics, the Barnes & Noble Nook may be done for, as the e-reader business is shrinking…”
This is far from the first time that I’ve come across this type of statement. It seems like every “reputable” publishing expert (i.e. one with interest/stake in traditional publishing) is ready to explain how ebook sales are already circling the drain and why we need traditional publishing.
Hybrid author Sylvia Day even states in an interview with Digital Book World that:
“The world cannot survive without the publishing industry.”
When pressed as to why this is the case, she replies with the nebulous:
“The publishing industry provides a viable channel which enables a wide distribution of books that we’re not seeing in any other way. Unfortunately, self-publishing doesn’t have that.”
Day also adds:
“There’s a network that’s in place that serves a purpose and I think that reading and the types of books would be available and the quality of the books available would be dramatically changed by the loss of the publishing industry.”
Oh really? As readers, we are supposed to continue to be content with New York telling us what is quality writing and what we’re supposed to like. We are also supposed to believe that the free market can’t regulate the quality of works.
Here’s a thought. Instead of shelling out $7.99 or more for a book that we might not enjoy, we pay $0.00 to $2.99 for an ebook from an independently published author. Sure there may be a slightly higher risk of poor grammar/formatting, but with the independently published book, we come out at least 60% cheaper.
If we find a book with poor formatting/grammar or a story that is convoluted and doesn’t catch my attention, then we’ll leave a detailed review for the next reader. Then that reader can use our reviews and the reviews of other readers to decide if they wish to purchase it.
The truth is that constant chattering about the plateauing of the ebook/ereader market isn’t so much about the ebook market at all. Instead it is an attempt to convince/remind everyone how much we still need traditional publishing.
Sam Missingham at Futurebook.net said it best:
“The expanding use of the phrases “ebook plateauing” or “ebook slowdown” are signs of a negative narrative that many in the industry seem to be pursuing – a narrative that is simply not backed up by the data…
“We should be building a new narrative, one built on big sales numbers and which celebrates the huge successes we are achieving.”
Anyone who wants to continue to claim that readers or authors need traditional publishes and that ebook sales are slowing down haven’t been this wrong since the Chicago Tribune announced “Dewey beats Truman”.