Wednesday, April 08, 2009

E-books rise

The IDPF and AAP keep some statistics on ebook sales. Their latest press release says:
Trade eBook sales were $8,800,000 for January, a very significant 173.6% increase over January 2008. Just a reminder these are wholesale revenues reported from 13 participating Trade Publishers.
E-book sales are still a very small portion of overall book sales, but while sales of hard copies are falling, e-books are rising. The Kindle may have had some influence here.

On a slightly different Kindle note, I received an email from "Monica GoldenbergOn behalf of the National Federation of the Blind":
I wanted to let you know that tomorrow, on April 7th in New York City, the Reading Rights Coalition, representing millions of disabled people who cannot read print, will protest the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 which promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 255,000 books. Hundreds of disabled Americans (the blind and people with dyslexia, learning difficulties, spinal cord injuries, seniors losing vision, stroke survivors) will assemble to demand that the Authors Guild reverse its decision.
(Protest covered by CNET.)

Organizations serving and representing people with text disabilities have been very active in the development of e-book standards and technologies because the e-book promises to greatly increase the access that people with disabilities have to print resources. As e-books and e-book readers become mainstream, more books and cheaper devices become available to everyone, including disabled readers, who are otherwise a niche market with no profit possibilities for companies serving them.

The Author's Guild is missing the point here, restricting access rather than allowing e-books a larger audience. And that audience isn't only the legally blind -- it is all of us who are aging, who have tired eyes, who commute by car, or who just want to take a walk and read the newspaper at the same time. The ability to turn on text-to-speech, with its monotone voice and odd pronunciation, is not the main reason to purchase e-books, but it has its moments for all of us, and is essential for many.

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