Bonus Material: The Size (of Your E-Book Store) Doesn’t Matter

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

e-book and old booksIt has seemed like every week this summer there has been a new announcement about a large quantity of titles being added to one e-bookstore or another. Whether it’s Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Sony or Google, the message has been consistent: “My e-book store is bigger!”, “No, my e-book store is bigger!”

It’s a bit like children shouting at each other, “My, dad could beat up your Dad,” “No, my dad could beat up your dad.” Of course, it’s a silly exchange: one’s dad is beating up the other kid’s dad. Never gonna happen.

I prefer to think of the PR shouting match in terms of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union barked at at each other: “I’ve got more nukes!”, “No, I’ve got more nukes.”

The point is, again, that the size of either country’s nuclear arsenal was irrelevant. In the Cold War of the 1960s each side had more than enough to satisfy any urge to wipe humanity off the planet a multitude of times. The same goes in this 20th century e-publishing Cold War: there are already more than enough books — new books, backlist books, and out-of-print books — being digitized each year to satisfy existing demand tenfold.

In this economy, the mass market isn’t ready to embrace a $300, $200, or even $100 e-reader, at least not yet — and people are hardly clamoring for ebooks.

So, please, everyone —  let’s tone down the hyperbolic claims of being “the world’s biggest e-book store.” First, lots of those titles are public domain works most anyone can pull off the nternet if they have a modicum of skill. Second, any claim to be “world’s biggest” is impossible to verify The truth of the matter is that the world’s biggest e-bookstore is probably in China (or soon will be) where more than 8,000 books are being uploaded every day. Come back here for more on that story soon…

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.