Have ebooks plateaued?

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.

  1. This growth problem certainly seems to be happening in the etextbook market, which Carr doesn’t address.
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     etextbooks are certainly growing very slowly for a variety of reasons (limited features, student expectations, price points).

  2. Carr also doesn’t touch on the Department of Justice court wins against Apple and a raft of major publishers.
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     Perhaps that saga kept ebook prices up, removing one reason for their appeal.

  3. The promise of ebooks offering formal feature differences has largely failed to materialize.
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     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.

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    (cf Om Malik)

So did ebooks just reach a limit, or are they about to decline, or is this a blip?  After all, ebooks are now the leading element in adult fiction.

(via Slashdot)

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2 Responses to Have ebooks plateaued?

  1. singlesoliloquy says:

    Reblogged this on Tim Lepczyk.

  2. Pingback: Trendlines towards the end of 2013 | Bryan Alexander

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