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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Bookstores that only sell blue books!

    When Sony lauched the CONNECT™ eBook online store as the only source from which purchasers of the Sony® Reader could obtain the e-books to read on their new device, and locked users in to this by the BBeB format, I suggested that this was just a little limiting - rather like having a bookshop that only sold titles with blue covers! As TeleRead notes in the middle of Sony Reader and e-book biz spotlighted in mostly upbeat Washington Post column,
    we’re not quite in a digital nirvana. For example, the Sony Connect store now carries a mere 15,000 e-books compared to 200,000 titles available from a typical Barnes & Noble store.
    or, compared with the 50,000 Mobipocket titles which will be available to purchasers of the Bookeen CyBook (reported in Another e-Ink e-book reader announced).

    Washington Post tech columnist Mike Musgrove also noted in the TeleRead entry,
    that prices of e-books could be lower, too. “I bought three books for my vacation reading and saved about $4 off the cost at, not including shipping,” he wrote of his Sony Reader adventures.

    “In other words, this device is more attractive for people looking to save shelf space rather than money.”

    He saved money, but not enough - I think he is saying - to tempt new users to the Reader (or to e-books?). Should e-books be cheaper?

    The old arguments are that publishers are saving on paper, printing, storage and shipping costs vs. the intellectual property idea stating that, no matter in whatever form you purchase it, you are buying the same intellectual effort on the part of the author... which has the same value. Should we expect publishers to treat e-books as a 'loss leader' in order to swing the market to e-books? Is this the only way to generate mass e-book sales? If it is, are we saying that there is nothing intrinsically worthwhile about e-books?

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