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Between the pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins


The Kindles are coming!

Some say that the future of the publishing industry lies in eBooks and electronic reading devices. Iíve heard this mantra constantly in the twelve or so years that Iíve been involved with writers and publishers but it seemed to be a misty vision of the world of tomorrow. Suddenly the movement appears to be picking up steam.

As I see it, the problem was that none of the e-readers were able to take the lead and capture a big enough following. The formats were all proprietary, severely limiting the available books and authors.

And then Amazon stepped forward. With its huge customer base and its reputation as the leading internet bookseller it was only natural that they could develop a format and then provide easy conversion to the Kindle, Amazonís e-reader. With the huge inventory of titles available through Amazon, success quickly followed. The Kindle became the best selling e-reader and the market for eBooks grew proportionately.

And then Apple joined the fray. The iPad is compatible with the Kindle format and brings a huge Apple-addicted following along with it. In the short time that the iPad has been on the market, significant growth has been noted in eBook sales.

Itís difficult to nail down accurate statistics on just how quickly the industry is changing. Amazon claims unprecedented gains but their numbers are disputed by the print media. Still, nobody denies that the market is changing.

Iím sure that there will always be a market for books that you can hold in your hand and turn the pages. And nothing can compare with the authorís signature in the flyleaf. But the balance has begun to swing, the reading public is now a generation of people who find reading on a screen perfectly natural.

Iím an old timer and I never thought that Iíd see an electronic reader in my future but as a book reviewer, it looks like Iíd better join the crowd. In the meantime I think Iíll buy some stock in Eveready.

2010 Past Columns