Consumer of Acceptance of E-Books Grows
A new consumer survey finds 70% of readers are ready to buy electronic books if they can read them on any computer.
The survey also finds 67% of consumers are ready to read electronic books, and 62% would borrow e-books from the library.
The research was sponsored by the Open E-Book Forum (OEBF), an industry trade association that promotes e-book technologies.
But if consumers are ready to thumb through electronic pages, sentiment among leading book publishers hasn't changed. They believe consumers and retailers still aren't ready for e-books.
Publishers are also wondering how to integrate e-books into manufacturing and distribution workflows originally designed to produce paper books.
"The challenges of electronic book publishing remains the same, and that is figuring out how to marshal our content into a digital format," says Bob Bolick, VP of new business development with the McGraw-Hill Companies, in New York. "You have to work e-books into your standard workflow, which is 98% of what we do. Where do they fit? They don't exist, they're not quantifiable, and that creates back office issues."
Tim McGuire, vice president of production and manufacturing for Simon & Schuster in New York, agrees.
"When e-books first appeared, we wondered if there would [ultimately] be much of a business in manufacturing books," McGuire says. "Then we released [Stephen King's] Riding the Bullet, and while it did well among computer users, it wasn't properly received by traditional book readers-the ordinary consumers."
REAL READERS, NOT GEEKS
Acceptance of e-books among ordinary consumers is changing fast, e-book advocates say. The OEBF's survey is one tool advocates are using to make their case. Survey managers conducted interviews at a public book fair, seeking ordinary consumers, without regard to their level of computer experience.
"These people aren't often surveyed on electronic books, because most of those surveys are done online," says Harold Henke, a principal consultant for Chartula, a Denver consulting firm hired by the OEBF to conduct the research. "This is good news for publishers, because the results suggest that everyday people who like to read are now open to reading electronic books."