Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Journey of the Late Adopter

Day 1 - Ebooks? No way! Too expensive, and print will never be replaced.

Day 40 - Sure, authors like Konrath are making a bit of money, but this is a niche market.

Day 94 - Konrath is paying his mortgage with ebook sales? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 112 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped. They're still too expensive.

Day 223 - So a bunch of authors are making a bit of money on ebooks. Big deal. They're exceptions.

Day 300 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped again. They're still too expensive.

Day 432 - Konrath is making over 12k a month? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 541 - Hmm, ereaders are pretty cheap. But I'd never give up print books. I like print too much.

Day 940 - A lot of bookstores seem to be closing. Maybe I should have bought more print books.

Day 1114 - There sure are a lot of people with ereaders. The devices are easier to use, inexpensive, and have a lot more features. And there are millions of ebooks available, most of them cheaper than the print versions.

Day 1322 - Lots of authors are releasing enriched and enhanced ebooks. Some bigshot bestsellers are even releasing ebooks without a print version.

Day 1496 - Maybe I'll ask for an ereader for my birthday.

Day 1594 - I love my f*cking ereader. How'd I ever live without it?

Day 1687 - You don't have an ereader yet? Wake up and join the present day, you caveman.


Ereaders have been around for over a decade, but I believe the revolution really began to pick up speed when Amazon released the Kindle 2 in 2009.

According to my scenario, by July of 2013, ereaders will be adopted by the majority of readers the US, and the preferred method of book buying.

This timeline is purely guesswork, of course. I'm basing it on the gradual adoption of the iPod by consumers, particularly the period of growth from 2004 to 2006, when sales went from four million a year to forty million a year. They are currently plateaued at over fifty million a year, and have been since 2007.

That '04 to '06 growth spurt looks a lot like what's happening now in the ereader world, with Random House recently reporting that ebook sales up were up 300% and Amazon predicting ebooks would soon outsell paperbacks on their site.

We're certainly in a time of tremendous growth, and it probably won't plateau for another two years or so. If it follows the same trend as the mp3 player (which followed other tech trends like home computers, cell phones, DVD players, and flat screen TVs) then my scenario may not be far off the mark.

Hear that, all of you naysayers? All of you folks saying you hate ereaders and will never get one? All of you who love the printed word and won't ever give up paper books?

By July 2013 you'll be eating those words.