Why ebooks have to be different from print books

In an earlier post, I made the claim that ebooks must present a different experience for the user than pbooks in order to continue growing on the market. It might be obvious, but I want to tell you why I made that claim. I think this table says it well:

(source)

People aren’t saying they don’t enjoy ebook content, they just aren’t seeing why they should switch over. They have to buy an expensive device, they’re not sure about reading from a screen–why not just get the regular old book? It’s not going to be easy to change that status quo. Publisher’s need to segregate the ebook market from the pbook market so that they face less elastic demand, allowing them more control over pricing. Two different products have two different demand curves and may charge different prices. The key is to separate them. They are currently being mashed together.

Just look at the responses in the survey–ebooks are compared against a standard of pbooks. Pbooks aren’t going to go away anytime soon, so ebooks have to offer something new. Publishers have to change the game. My previous post outlines one possible direction that could go in. But c’mon, books are centuries old, ereaders are cutting-edge. There should be no comparison. Whoever segregates the markets between ebooks and pbooks will be able to reap the benefits of price discrimination.

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