In comparison to the film, music and even newspaper industries, the publishing company is changing rather impassively. This does not change the inevitable fact that it will face enormous changes in the future which have already been apparent for many years.
It seems like publishers have been scared of adapting to a changing market. By examining other content industries, they saw the pitfalls of accelerated digitalization. They tried to avoid developments such as lower prices and piracy by detaining digitalization as long as possible. Maybe they adjudged the risk of building the required infrastructure for an eBook platform was too great.
Online vs. print
Ebooks will not mean the end of print. However, I believe that consumers will look at the next book they intend to buy and properly consider whether they want to purchase an object which they can take out of the bookshelf repeatedly, read and admire. For example, a printed book with wonderful pictures of landscapes of the Grand Canyon will certainly still be physically bought in the future. However, educational books such as textbooks and novels will make more perception to buy as eBooks as you can search through them and add notes. This will not happen overnight but over the next couple of years, just like people are still buying DVDs while they can enjoy the same content on Netflix.
A global market without borders
The digitalization of reading will mean a market that will have no borders in the succeeding days. The present distribution restrictions will break down and will allow eBooks to be distributed worldwide. Amazon, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple will be driving forces behind this as their devices are sold and their content distributed globally. In many ways, this is already happening.
Amazon is a good example in that when you buy anything, you can download eBooks all over the world with your device via the local 3G network. But publishers can also do this without the help of the big device manufacturers. For example, bookboon.com, which is one of the world’s largest eBook publishers, distributed free eBooks to all but one country in the world in August, the one being North Korea.
Future business models
Many future business models will be determined by which devices consumers will use to read eBooks. Based on the current stagnation in the sales of eReaders in the USA, many have speculated that leaders will hold 20% of the market share compared with 80% held by tablets such as the iPad.
These devices with their built-in eBook shops will enable the consumer to buy as many eBooks as possible in a precipitate. As a result, these device-based distribution channels will take over a lot of book sales which used to be prompted in regular book stores such as Barnes & Noble in the USA, and Waterstones in the UK.
The lesson learned from the examples of Google, Facebook and Twitter must be that a superior product wins or in the case of Instagram, the most social product wins. The next one may very well be within the publishing industry, and some will proclaim that the Kindle was this revolutionizing product. In my opinion, the publishing industry can anticipate many more great ideas, and the real winner will be a product that can be used across all platforms and does not require a dedicated hardware investment.