Stackpole starts by mentioning the predictions of another book industry consultant, Michael Shatzkin, who sees a serious disruption in book distribution as early as November, 2012:
…once ebook sales hit 20-25% of book sales, print run numbers will fall to a point where the current consignment system for sales will break down….Ebook sales will create smaller print runs, driving up the unit cost, forcing higher prices which, in turn, will kill sales. Game over.Stackpole agrees with the analysis, but not the date.
I think it will be sooner: June 2012, and the most serious blow will be struck in December, 2011, when a second wave of tablets becomes the hottest holiday gift item….Stackpole also foresees authors themselves contributing to the change because it is so easy for authors to create and market ebooks, plus they can make more on those books than the ones the publishers are offering. Like me, he doesn’t see this as an end to print books, but he does see a giant shift, unless publishers quickly change their business model.
The first and most critical point [Shatzkin] missed was Apple's announcement on 8 April about the iPhone OS 4.0. With this new revision, later generation iPhones and iPod Touches will all get a version of iBooks, Apple's book-reading software. This will add over fifty million ebook readers to the market, with readers being able to order books from anywhere at any time. This will be a serious blow to brick-and-mortar stores, eroding their sales more quickly than imagined.
As for me, I see this shift already occurring. I see it here in the comments on Straight From Hel. I see it in friends and clients who are bypassing traditional publishing and publishing ebooks themselves or going through niche publishers to do it for them. I see it in the popularity of ereaders and the hoopla over the iPad, students reading textbooks on ereaders, colleges giving students ereaders to use, parents buying ereaders for their young children, people downloading books to their cell phones.
Do you see such a change? Are you part of the change?