The June 7th Economist has an article entitled Unbound about Book publishing in America. It highlights Amazon's impact on the industry through POD (Print on Demand) and the Kindle. There were a few key points that are worth noting:
- Unlike digital music or video, digital books require consumers to change their consumption habits.
- Textbooks is a growing category and it is helping to reduce costs by eliminating all the frictional expenses that occur along the value chain. The Economist points out that this could have a huge impact for Springer & Elsevier in terms of the $2.3 B college textbook-resale market. If the books are only available electronically, they become very hard to resell to the old college bookstore.
- POD is now cheaper than standard print for runs of fewer than 1200 copies according to Steve DeForge of Ames On-Demand.
The last paragraph says it all and ties in with my last post: Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers and any technology that bring these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient. The pains is for those who have historically benefited from he distance between them.