E-Books: Choosing a Reading Device and a Bookseller

Guest Host:

Mark Fisher
[token_custom_headline_image_caption_plain] - [token_custom_headline_image_credit_plain]
E-Books: Choosing a Reading Device and a Bookseller

Why is Microsoft investing in e-books? Which reading device is best for you? Can independent bookstores adapt to the e-book market? Tech Tuesday explores...

The e-book market is constantly evolving. Microsoft recently made a big investment in the Barnes & Noble Nook. Apple and the major publishing houses are locking horns with the Department of Justice over alleged price-fixing. Meanwhile, innovative independent bookstores are figuring out how to make money off e-books. Tech Tuesday explores changes in the e-book marketplace.

Guests

David Pogue

Tech Columnist, New York Times

Bradley Graham

Co-owner, Politics and Prose bookstore

Lee Rainie

Founding Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Related Links

Video Extra

Graham talks with guest host Marc Fisher about renowned author Maurice Sendak's disdain for E-books and what he sees as a generational divide among those who use E-books and those who don't:

Related Video

David Pogue's 2010 video exploring the question of whether a single-purpose e-reader is a better buy than an iPad:

How Bookstores Are Coping In The Age Of The E-Reader

In the past several years, consumer choices between e-readers have grown rapidly as companies race to produce devices with more features and less bulk. An increasing number of people are making the switch from traditional books to the machines, or at least using an e-reader for travel even if they still prefer to open a cover and turn paper pages at home. But buying that first e-reader can be daunting now - with having to chose between a touch screen or buttons, black-and-white or color, wi-fi or 3-G, and committing to one company's book list (like the choice between Amazon or Barnes and Noble).

At the same time, the publishing industry and bricks-and-mortar bookstores are trying to figure out how to keep up with the market. Barnes and Noble has changed the layout of many of its stores now so that its Nook readers are
prominently displayed just inside the main entrances, where the new and best-selling sections used to be. Independent bookstores that have no such branded e-readers of their own to offer are trying to figure out how to turn a profit in the era of instant gratification book delivery.

Bradley Graham, who bought Politics & Prose in June 2011 with his wife Lissa Muscatine, talks about a deal the American Booksellers Association struck with Google so independent bookstores, like his, can sell e-books. Graham says some stores, including Politics & Prose, have the Google link on their website. The bookstore would then get a percentage of the sale, but for Graham, e-book sales are still a very small percentage of the store's total revenue (less than 1 percent). Google recently announced its plans to discontinue the program for independent bookstores at the end of this year, which has prompted some of the stores to explore the idea of creating their own e-reader.

Lee Rainie of the Pew Center's Internet and American Life Project says that while no one was really reading e-books on e-readers five to 10 years ago, 21 percent of all American adults reported having read an e-book in the past year - a technology adoption that's unusually dramatic for such a short time period. The latest Pew study on e-books and e-readers also found that people don't necessarily abandon print books for e-readers. Rainie thinks that's partially because people with e-readers tend to be avid readers in any format, and owning an e-reader means they never have to be without something to read.

Please familiarize yourself with our Code of Conduct and Terms of Use before posting your comments.

The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.