Sales of ebooks have stopped growing in the United States and Canada, according to recent data. The ever-critical Nicholas Carr suggests that ebooks have hit a limit, and assembles this graph:
Carr also has some good thoughts as to why this might be happening. I’m struck by this observation:
The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.
I can add a few thoughts.
- This growth problem certainly seems to be happening in the etextbook market, which Carr doesn’t address. etextbooks are certainly growing very slowly for a variety of reasons (limited features, student expectations, price points).
- Carr also doesn’t touch on the Department of Justice court wins against Apple and a raft of major publishers. Perhaps that saga kept ebook prices up, removing one reason for their appeal.
- The promise of ebooks offering formal feature differences has largely failed to materialize. Most ebooks are basically text, ported-over pdfs and Word documents. There simply aren’t that many ebooks which include interactivity, multimedia, or formal experimentation. (cf Om Malik)