Apple Should Get Serious About eBooks, And Other Navel-Gazing
So The Bookseller has drunk the Kool-Aid and joined the school of thought that thinks it would be great if Apple got serious about the ebook market:
Apple is missing the boat on e-books.
And there’s billions of dollars at stake.
PWC estimates the 2018 US e-book market at $9B, FutureBook estimates the UK market at £381.5m. Apple gets 10%. That’s abysmal, considering the ubiquity of Apple devices. The Amazon/Hachette fiasco revealed that many in the book world don’t really like Amazon.
This is an opportunity for Apple.
If you’re buying an e-book, there’s only one place to go: Amazon. It’s not because of discovery; it’s mindshare. Most books aren’t discovered on Amazon – just bought there. Opportunity.
But it’s easy to forget how deeply Amazon has burrowed into the online book world. Most Facebook shares or book reviews link to Amazon. Amazon results dominate bookish web searches. Goodreads is the online books community.
If I ran iBooks, I’d launch a major initiative – Apple Books – with the goal to make Apple Books the destination of choice for book lovers (the app and website). By following Apple Music’s lead and focusing on Content, Curation and Community, Apple Books can become more than just a store. It can become an essential resource for book lovers, where books are discovered and discussed, and their authors are celebrated.
First, anyone who cites PWC estimates as anything other than a joke has obviously been smoking illicit substances (it’s time to share).
But more importantly, the piece in The Bookseller proves the old maxim that anytime someone comes to you, gushing about a great opportunity, they meant that it is a great opportunity for them.
The Bookseller is merely the latest in a long line of publishing industry insiders to get excited about Apple’s potential impact on ebooks without bothering to explain why the gadget maker would be interested (they also forget that Apple has never been that interested in competing in the ebook market, hence agency).
Here are a few of the bad ideas:
Why doesn’t Apple Books alert me when George R R Martin writes a new post? When a new book is released or goes on sale? When I’m at the airport and need a book for my flight?
Because users hate spam? I for one deleted the Medium app because it kept spamming me with notifications, and I know I’m not the only one to aggressively disable or delete apps which send annoying notifications.
Apple should offer a subscription product like Amazon Unlimited. Not because it’s great business, but to acquire customers.
So you want Apple to throw money away on your pet project? What’s in it for them?
I could go into detail and explain what is wrong with this post, but I don’t see a need to repeat myself. As I’ve explained before, Apple makes nearly all of its money from hardware sales, and so Apple only cares about ebooks so far as they will boost device sales. Along with movies, music, and apps, ebooks are just another check mark on Apple’s list of content types.
Come up with a reason why Apple would want to change that position, and then we can talk.
image by torbakhopper