By now I’m sure you are familiar with Amazon Kindle, the software and hardware platform developed by an Amazon.com subsidiary for reading e-books and other digital media.  Now, Best Buy and Verizon are jumping into the electronic reading devise game.

irex-iliad-book-editionOn Wednesday, iRex Technologiers, plans to announce a $399 touch-screen e-reader.  With your new iRex you will be able to purchase digital books and newpapers wirelessly over the 3G network of Verizon, joining the ranks of AT&T and Sprint, two companies who already support e-books.  Then, just in time for early Christmas shopping, the iRex is expected to be sold at a few hundred Best Buys stores, along with a Sony Reader.

This comes at a time when people are turning to e-readers instead of newspapers and books.  “For the second quarter of 2009, total newspaper ad sales fell 29% to $6.8 billion, down from $9.6 billion last year”, according to Q2 figures released by the Newspaper Association of America.  At the same time, “book sales have deteriorated since the beginning of October, falling about 7 percent compared with the same period the previous year”, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of sales.

The down turn in sales in the publishing industry is also being  driven by longer-term trends, including a shift toward digital reading and competition from an array of entertainment options like video games and online social networking.

Social media is changing the game folks.  While many people still “love the feel of the newspaper in the morning” or enjoy “taking an hard cover book on vacation” there is no turning back now and the sales, or lack thereof is telling the story.  The digital age is here and it is crossing over all lines of business. One of the most interesting things to me, in all of the changes in publishing industry, is the increase the higher education market.

The PW/IPR Book Sales Index, a new report from Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research, projects that sales of digital books in the higher education market will rise 3.5% in 2009, to an estimated $110.2 million.  Demand for digital books at colleges will accelerate when CourseSmart, the online joint venture created by five publishers to sell digital course material, begins to gain traction. A 17% growth in digital sales is expected to drive a 6.5% increase in the professional segment.

While one industry is on the downswing because of new digital technology, another segment has found a new way of doing business.  We would all be wise to take a second look at our own industry and watch the trends to make sure we are stay ahead of the curve ball in the digital space.

2 Comments

  1. I think that just to sit back and say ‘well time to close our doors’ is a cop out and a discredit to those of us who love to read. If they would stop focusing on the numbers of print readers and try to see how they could improve their numbers of digital readers then their circulation would have a chance to grow exponentially being that digital is capable of a worldwide audience. http://www.jack-in.com/jdcblog/?p=1757 my post also touches on this same subject.

    I would like to know how many readers have switched to digital from print. This is not a lost reader just a different venue.

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