How the iPad Impacts Print —SherburneMarch 2010
APPLE IS very good at generating a lot of buzz around new product announcements, and the company seems to be getting better with each attempt. Less than a week after its announcement, a Google search for "iPad" resulted in more than 13 million hits. And, I watched more than a dozen new results being fed, in real time, from Twitter and other sources in the few moments I spent on that search page.
Some pundits pronounced that even Apple didn't expect this much attention, although I am sure they are not complaining. Others suggest that Apple will enjoy sales of more than 4 million of these devices in 2010. (Note: Sales of the Apple iPhone doubled when comparing the first quarter of Apple's 2010 financial year with the corresponding 2009 quarter, and nearly 50 million have been sold since it was launched in June 2007.)
But is the media frenzy around the iPad hype, or is it the beginning of something new? Either way, how will the iPad and other follow-on "tablets" affect your business?
Certainly, products like the iPad and the Amazon Kindle (which is under a lot of pressure from publishers as a result of Apple offering to sell e-books for more than the Kindle's standard $9.99 price) are changing the world of book publishing. In fact, Amazon has reported that six out of every 10 books it sells are in the Kindle version, if there is a Kindle version available, up from 35 percent not too long ago.
Not that all the kinks have been worked out…In a dispute surrounding Apple's higher pricing model, publisher Macmillan pulled all of its books from the Kindle store. Although that dispute is likely to be resolved quickly, it demonstrates the struggle facing publishers, in terms of how to price and distribute books, and hang on to as much control (and revenue) as possible. Likewise, Simon & Schuster is trying to exercise control by delaying e-book availability on its titles for four months after the hardback is released.
Well, of course, what seems to be missing in this conversation is what the consumer wants, and publishers should be cognizant that consumers will vote with their pocketbooks, which will exert a great deal of influence on the ultimate outcome of this whole scenario. Either way, book printers should be watching this trend carefully and planning for the worst (whether it happens or not).