Published on Forbes.com.
Whether you like it or not, it’s now a tablet world — we just live in it.
According to a recent survey, one out of every five e-book readers use a Kindle Fire to read and almost as many use an iPad. Some 35% use a Kindle e-ink reader but the two leading tablets combined have now surpassed the older technology and will soon leave it in the dust. With the new Google Nexus 7 tablet rising and Barnes & Noble lowering prices on the Nook tablet, reader momentum toward the newer technology will only accelerate.
So, what does this mean for the book publishing world? At least two things:
1. The rise of e-books and e-reading might slow.
2. Publishers have to start thinking about content in new ways.
The Slower Growth of E-Books
If you’ve been paying attention to the latest e-book growth numbers from the Association of American Publishers, you’ll notice that growth in e-book revenues is slowing. It’s still stupendous, double-digit growth (and on a much larger base), but it’s no longer doubling or more every year.
One possible reason is the growth in tablet reading. As iPads and Nexus 7s replace Kindles and Nooks under Christmas trees, e-books are now competing with apps, email and Web-browsing as a leisure activity on new devices.
“Tablets will adversely affect the e-book business in that the tablet is a multifunction device and will therefore draw the reader into non-book activities and therefore cause them to consume books slower and therefore buy fewer books versus a single function e-reading device,” Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing services at Bowker Market Research, told me in May when it started to become clear just how tablet sales were affecting e-books. (Gallagher and Bowker help field and analyze the study tracking the rise of tablet e-reading cited above — and the one before it.)
I can tell you in my own iPad reading, notifications about email and other app activity take me out of my books all the time, meaning that I theoretically finish the book slower and therefore buy fewer books. Publishers are aware of this, which is they are….