Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are Libraries Latest Threat to e-Booksellers?

Amazon has been the Goliath of the e-book battleground. Booksellers, publishers, authors, and libraries have all taken turns bemoaning the buying power and aggressive price strategy employed by the Seattle company. But that notion may not be correct any longer, according to Chris Rechtsteiner, blogger and publisher of the weekly newsletter Thinking Out Loud, who suggested four months ago that libraries were the real threat to e-book sales.

Now, Rechtsteiner, who is also the founder and chief strategist for research firm BlueLoop Concepts, says people simply not reading is now the biggest challenge facing booksellers, publishers, and libraries. They’re not reading because there are so many low-cost alternatives to capture their attention, whether accessed via television, tablet, or smartphone.

In a recent post for digitalbookworld.com, he speculated that libraries have dealt with the issue of people not reading for quite some time and have been forced to adapt more quickly. Creating programs to lend e-books and e-readers is the sort of innovation booksellers and publishers have not been doing with the same sense of urgency.

Booksellers and authors are trying, but need help from publishers, according to Rechtsteiner.

“Publishers (both old and new) must step up and provide the platforms (and rights-management frameworks) for innovation needed by booksellers (all types of booksellers) and authors to push reading forward,” he wrote. “If they don’t, publishers will fall by the wayside as true innovation will be limited to a few (one?) large players investing on their own behalf (see Amazon, Barnes & Noble + Microsoft), while authors take their storytelling to completely new platforms that are altogether outside of the bookselling and library frameworks.”

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