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“The E-Book is a Stupid Product,” says Hachette Group CEO.

March 8, 2018, by Jack Dziamba

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Whither the e-Book?

The e-book was introduced about 10 years ago. As sales took off, it was claimed that the e-book would soon eclipse the print book.  Indeed it was true for most of ten years.  According to the Association of American Publishers, in 2012 sales revenue from ebooks in the U.S. surpassed hardbound books,  However, in the U.S. in the first nine month of 2016  “e-book sales declined 18.7% , according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%. In the U.K., in 2016, sales of consumer e-books plunged 17%.   Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% during the same period. CNN Media. Where is the e-book headed?

“The E-Book is a Stupid Product”

Arnaud Nourry is the CEO of  the Hachette Livre Group, one of the word’s largest publishers with over 17,000 new titles each year and sales of $2,826 million in 2016,  In an interview with Scroll.in, published on February 17, 2018,Nourry was quoted as saying,

The e-book is a stupid product. It’s exactly the same as print, except it is electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience.”

Lack of Talent

Nourry went on to explain,

“I reached the conclusion that we don’t really have the skills and talents in our companies because publishers and editors are accustomed to picking a manuscript and creating a design on a flat page. They don’t really know the full potential of 3-D and digital.”

While the e-book was portrayed as eliminating the print book, British Design Critic, Alice Rawsthorn stated in the New York Times of November 28, 2010 that,

“These devices offer thrilling possibilities for us to do much more than read words on a screen, and it is deeply disappointing that so few designers and publishers are embracing them.”

Thus, from 2010 to 2018, the e-book has been plagued with the lack of creativity and talent to seize the potential of the New Media in the digital age. Alice Rawsthorn  and Arnaud Nourray stated this clearly above. , In essence, the e-book was seen as merely a paper back page with a light behind it – static and linear.

What Is To Be Done?

Many solutions have been proposed and some executed with excellent technology, design and scholarship. See, for the book, Great Impressionist and Post Impressionist Paintings The Musée d’Orsay, and  “Is the E-Book Dead or Just Asleep?”

The problem is that during the 10 years of the ebook, publishers have wrung the profit out of the static e-book, with many e-books costing as much as print books. The e-book, however, requires physical paper, no printing, no warehousing and distribution systems, as does the print book.

Until e- book publishers add value by content which enhances an e-book, the digital book will be regarded simply as reading a paperback with a light behind each page. It is not worth the price.

The End?

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