Saturday, October 17, 2009

BPN 1392 Frankfurt Book Fair: no e-book excitement

The annual pilgimage for publishers to the Frankfurter Book Fair is over. On this largest book grail publishers walk kilometers, select potential books to be translated and talk about the latest developments in the sector over a beer or a good dinner. And the e-reader definitely was on the menu of the item list. The marketing bureau Forrester forcated a sale of 1 million e-readers in the Christmas season, followed by sales of 6 million e-readers next year. And Google announced that Google Editions will start distributing e-books in the first half year of next year. But how much whipped cream wsa in these announcements?

Concretely there is some action on the e-readers front. Barnes & Noble will re-join the fray. And Amazon will launch a global English-language Kindle with wireless 3G access through AT&T in more than 100 countries. And Google has announced In my home country The Netherlands the Kindle will (finally) be available on October 19, 2009. Amazon will not have Dutch titles available yet; but the portfolio starts with the US offer and the European offer, read UK offer, probably with a small selection of French and German titles. The e-reader will be available at 185 euro, just a fraction cheaper than the cheapest Sony device. Besides subscribers to the Kindle will have to pay 99 eurocents for every megabyte transmitted. The offer looks too little, too late, as Sony has teamed up with the internet bookshop and is well on its way with their introduction.

Not only in The Netherlands, but also in Europe Kindle will have a hard time. Publishing e-books in foreign languages is not yet popular with publishers as there is no real demand for it. In Europe there is still a culture of ink sniffing. No books without ink.

Google will start distributing between the 600.000 and 800.000 e-books. This portfolio will partly exist of public domain book of which the copyrights are no longer valid., and partly of books, to which Google has been licensed. Google will keep 55 percent of the sales price (Amazon keeps 60 percent).

Should we be impressed by the potential sales figures? The sale of 6 million e-readers is impressive, but still small in terms of demography worldwide and even of the US. It is a start. But publishers and certainly foreign language book publishers will remain careful.

Blog Posting Number: 1392

Tags: e-book, e-reader

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