Who benefits from e-books?

It’s holiday time and the world divides into those who download all their reading onto an electronic device and those who cart piles of books around in their suitcase. I’m one of the latter, although getting better about leaving paperbacks I’ve read behind in hotels and cottages. However, I have downloaded onto my iPad the articles from the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives (free to read & always excellent.)

Among this issue’s essays is a symposium on technology, the labour market and growth, which looks terrific. There’s also a very interesting article by Richard Gilbert on ebooks and publishing, which concludes the outlook is not great for traditional publishers:

“The e-book story shows how the traditional players in the book industry are struggling to achieve a new market equilibrium in a time where their industry is facing severe technological disruption and illustrates the hazards they face in attempting to manage the transition to that new equilibrium.”
My gloss would be that not all publishers are the same. As The Guardian noted recently, university presses are doing well – I agree with Sam Leith here that the big conglomerates are too ‘me too’ in their approach; and as a small publisher myself with LPP I’m optimistic for new entrants. On the whole, innovation in the book world has so far probably been good for readers as there is a proliferation of new titles and formats.
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4 thoughts on “Who benefits from e-books?

  1. Pingback: Who benefits from e-books? | Homines Economici

  2. Don’t consumers benefit from the vast majority of innovation? I’m thinking of William Nordhaus’s estimate that just over 2% is captured by the producers: (http://www.nber.org/papers/w10433.pdf)

    Of course, some innovations aren’t beneficial to consumers (like a lot of recent financial products) – but that’s probably because consumers don’t understand them – whereas the benefits of an e-book are probably understood.

    • I’m aware that’s an average, and it will differ from sector to sector. Just pointing out that it’s likely that consumers will get most of the benefit.

  3. a highly innovative information and is an interesting idea to learn, and I am very happy with your writing that makes me always studying and learning , thanks for the ideas and creations

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