Whither e-books?

The existential angst over ebooks and the future of publishing and literature and nuclear disarmament and life as we know it (well, OK, I made up the last bit but the whole ‘ebooks phenom’ still seem to cause an unseemly amount of consternation IMHO) are all touched upon in an interesting interview with Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis over at CBC.ca.

Don’t know as I agree with all of his points (some of them seem a bit of a salesman’s oversimplification) but still an interesting take on the whole issue of portability, reader expectation and the changing face of publishing.

I certainly agree with his take that ereaders are here to stay although I’m not entirely convinced about his arguments against ‘all-in-ones’ either.

And the whole ‘priority’/’non-priority’ authorship bit seems a bit of a strawman to me that also deftly circumvents the whole issue of quality content. It’s not enough to offer e-readers at less than a $100/pop if the content that is being offered on them – no matter how easily accessible – is awful. And that’s why I think that authors and creative content creators will continue to be essential to the mix. Yes, access to audiences and readers and business models will/are changing radically but at the end of the day, good writing will prevail.

OK. Off my horse. But on a final note, I did find the saturation numbers fascinating. Are the big publishers really seeing 9 and 10% of their sales coming from e-books? Is that a Canadian, American or worldwide figure? Regardless, that’s a real game changer, I think (although as the CEO of the firm that produces an ereader, he’d hardly be saying “Actually, we were totally wrong and think it’s all going to dry up in six months :)), as a royalty earning author, I can only say ‘hope so’!


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