The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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The Inevitability of Electronic Reading

Many of you have probably read John Siracusa’s insightful, entertaining, and long anecdotal history of e-books at Ars Technica. Still, with Amazon set to make a big Kindle-related announcement early next week, it seems like a good time to highlight this sample:

In 2003, Apple started selling music for the iPod through its iTunes music store. Apple sold audio books as well, through a partnership with Audible. Perhaps unknowingly, Apple had just positioned itself perfectly for e-book domination.

It was all happening right before our eyes. First the device, already far past the minimum threshold for screen size and legibility, and rapidly gaining market penetration. Then the digital distribution channel, accessed via a desktop application used by every iPod owner. Then the deals with content owners


What was that line of Steve Jobs’ in an interview not so long ago? The interviewer was asking about e-books and e-readers, and he basically just scoffed, & said something along the lines of: “People don’t care about books.”

Which makes me wonder: How many DVDs are sold in the U.S. every year, and how many books are sold? I literally have no idea if DVDs are roughly equivalent… or 2X… or 10X!

Deserves some googling.

It was just about a year ago. This was the exchange:

Yeah, I have to keep reminding myself: It’s not about books. It’s not about books. It’s not even about *text*… it’s about… I don’t know, what *is* it about? A different kind of screen optimized for a different set of things, I guess. And when you talk about it that way, the current book-buying habits of the American public really aren’t relevant.

Short figures: U.S. sales of DVDs are about $15 billion. (Rentals add another half that.)

Book sales are about $35 billion.

So it’s almost exactly the opposite. The book industry is roughly twice as big as DVDs.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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