E-books, hardcovers, online booksellers and stores: Why everybody can win

June 21, 2010: 4:17 PM ET

Michael Edwards, the CEO of Borders

How the e-book and the bookstore can co-exist.

by Michael Edwards, CEO, Borders

We've heard it all before: digital content means the end of physical media. As consumers flock to the convenience of instant gratification and on-the-go content, traditional business models will be overturned, commerce will move online, and traditional retail outlets and the products on their shelves will go the way of the typewriter.

Or maybe not.

There's no question that both books and bookstores are moving an increasingly digital direction. The e-book is the biggest thing to hit the publishing industry since at least the paperback -- if not movable type itself. Even with just 3% to 5 % of the market, e-books are already forcing retailers and publishers to change the way they do business. Industry consultant Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Co. projects that e-books will account for 20% to 25% of unit sales by 2012 -- and he calls that a conservative estimate.

It's easy to understand the appeal of e-books. Because they don't require paper, printing presses, storage space, or delivery trucks, they typically sell for less than half the price of a hardcover book. But price is only part of the picture; after all, the combined efforts of paperbacks, libraries, and used books have yet to drive the $25 hardcover to extinction. For consumers, the lure of new releases at $10 apiece is at least equaled by the appeal of being able to download exactly the book you want, when and where you want it, and carry dozens of titles around with you in a package that weighs less than a single hardcover. More

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  • In praise of reading

    Amid all the talk about the "death of print" and the ill effects of multitasking and our shrinking attention spans, we have overlooked the fundamental truth that storytelling will never die.

    There's so much jawboning lately about e-readers and tablets and e-ink and pay walls. The debate rages. Will Apple's (AAPL) iPad flatten everyone else? Is Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle franchise fading? What about Sony (SNE) and Barnes & Noble (BN)? MORE

    - Jun 16, 2010 9:23 AM ET
  • Why universities should hate the iPad

    by John Patrick Pullen, contributor

    If students embrace textbooks on the iPad, college bookstores may lose their shirts.

    It may be the season for graduation parties and commencement speeches, but colleges and universities are already prepping for next year, even in the bookstore. Next fall, during opening weekend, students will once again file into university bookstores to purchase course materials, school supplies, and a college sweatshirt or two.

    While the university licensed MORE

    May 17, 2010 3:00 AM ET
  • iPad's secret weapon: Marvel Comics?

    Now that we've all seen the iPad and debated its design merits, let's cut to the chase: This thing will rise or fall on content. If Steve Jobs can get a bunch of cool books and apps on the thing, we'll want one. If not, we won't.

    Where will His Steveness get some of those books? I say the same place he's gotten so many movies and TV shows for iTunes MORE

    - Feb 1, 2010 4:18 PM ET
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  • Gunning for the Kindle

    CNNMoney contributor Jonathan Blum reports on the latest offerings in e-readers as part of our team coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show.


    - Jan 7, 2010 10:16 PM ET
  • Barnes & Noble bets on the Nook

    If you're the type of early Christmas shopper who bought a Kindle last week, I hope you kept the receipt. On October 20, Barnes & Noble (BKS) ceo Steve Riggio took the stage before hundreds of authors, agents, publishers and pundits to debut its electronic reader, the Nook.

    The Nook will sell for just $259, a steep discount from competitors like the Sony (SNE) Reader and the iRex DR800SG , which both retail for $399. The price suggests Barnes & Noble is going straight for Amazon (AMZN), which recently lowered the Kindle's price to $259.

    - Oct 20, 2009 8:05 PM ET
  • Is this Apple's e-book trojan horse?

    Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem is the first digital book for sale on iTunes 9 – perhaps an early sign of Apple's (AAPL) desire to take on Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle and Sony's (SNE) Reader in the digital book market.

    I would have missed the significance of Mayhem on iTunes if I hadn't run into Gibson himself on Wednesday. After the Steve Jobs iPod keynote, I spotted the actor/singer known for roles in action MORE

    - Sep 11, 2009 6:30 AM ET
  • Sony fires latest salvo in e-reader war

    In what is fast shaping up to be a war in the e-reader marketplace, Sony (SNE) has launched the latest salvo, a sub-$300 touch-screen "Reader Touch Edition" and the $199 "Reader Pocket Edition," which features a 5-inch display. The company is also lowering prices of ebooks. New releases and best-sellers will all be $9.99, matching Amazon's (AMZN) price point for the first time.

    In addition to lowering prices, adding a touch-screen MORE

    - Aug 4, 2009 7:37 PM ET
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  • Barnes & Noble unveils largest ebookstore

    Book retailer partners with Plastic Logic and Google to take on rival Amazon.

    The world's largest bookseller has taken the wraps off the world's largest e-bookstore. Barnes & Noble (BN) announced yesterday the availability of more than 700,000 digital e-books, along with free e-reader software for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Mac and PC platforms. "It's a unique every-device strategy," said William Lynch, president of BN.com in a conference call.

    The strategy is MORE

    - Jul 21, 2009 8:00 AM ET
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