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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ebook Growth Varies in Different Industrialized Countries->Reasons Why


Why is ebook growth exploding in the U.S. and U.K. and just creeping along in Japan and France?

Different business cultures? Different distribution systems? Different resale structures?

Some of each, but not in the way you might imagine. If you want to learn a little inside poop about publishing and distribution structures in various other industrialized nations and how they may affect and compare to our own system...then here is an exceptionally intuitive analysis given by professor Ken Sakamura (pictured) in the Mainichi Daily News :

E-book publishing industry needs new model that suits all

E-books have finally caught on in Japan. Mobile phone companies and home electronics manufacturers jumped into the market with their latest products starting in the second half of last year. The so-called method of "jisui" (cooking for oneself) -- or the self-digitization of paper books into e-books -- has become popular among people tired of waiting for new books to be digitized, ironically spawning how-to books about doing it yourself.

I have no intention of arguing whether electronic or paper books are better. Just as the majority of music distribution now takes place online, it is clear that in the long run, the e-reading terminals that can talk to the network will make e-books the mainstream. Over 10 million e-readers have already been sold in the U.S., and according to some predictions, over half the books bought there in 2014 will be electronic.

At the same time, however, readers aren't completely happy with their e-readers. Terminals that use reflective electronic paper can be read under sunlight, are lightweight, and have long-lasting batteries. But their display screens are black and white, and the pages are slow to switch. On the other hand, all-purpose tablets with color displays cannot be read under sunlight, are heavy, and the batteries are short-lived. However, it is only a matter of time before such technical problems are addressed and solved.

What bothers me more at the moment is the extremely varied degrees to which e-books have been accepted in industrialized nations, which, at first glance, appear to be facing this new technological era under similar conditions. E-books that are read on dedicated terminals have become very popular both in the U.S. and the U.K., where in just the past few years, many new books have been released in both paper and e-book forms. In the U.S., there are over 800,000 general books available in e-book form for a fee.

Meanwhile, e-books have been very slow to catch on in Japan and France, although Japan is seen to have the world's largest market of e-books read on mobile phones. As it turns out, however, the majority of these e-books are comics, and particularly those that are difficult to buy in general bookstores, so there is a subtle difference between what is taking place in Japan and the shift from paper publishing to e-publishing seen elsewhere.

For Japanese electronic readers, which have been advertised widely in Japan since the end of 2010, their recent appearance on the market actually marks their second try. The first attempt, which went on the market some years ago as the world's first electronic paper terminal, was pulled off the market soon afterward without so much as generating a buzz.

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