This section is where you'll find my thoughts on life from the eyes of an entrepreneur. The biggest challenge is balancing the success and obligations that success brings as the more successful one becomes, it seems the more obligations they have to the world. Feel free to comment as you follow my journey and general musings regarding that journey.
With Blockbuster filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and planning to shutter hundreds of its retail stores, you could say the last major provider of retail content has died. The culprit? The Internet of course!
Since digital downloads are becoming more prevalent, the need to physically leave your house to rent or purchase a video is becoming obsolete. However, what most people don't realize that even though video available via the Internet is growing fast, most videos are still watched the old fashioned way; from a physical disk inserted into a player. Rentals are still a big part of that equation with Netflix leading the way in movie rentals by mail. Yes, by mail! However, Netflix's own internal projections say that video delivered via downloads will surpass video delivered via mail in the next 5 years.
Enter iPad and Kindle
The same debate is going on with books. The death-knell has been heard, or so people argue, regarding the printed book. Are they right? Well certainly the popularity of the Kindle and iPad have made digital books more attractive and they are certainly selling a ton of digital copies. Amazon claims that the volume of digitally downloaded books for the Kindle have surpassed the volume of hardcover books sold.
Not sure what they are predicting in terms of softcover (paperback) books, but hardcover books are just a small subset of the market. Yes, it's easier to push digital downloads than to produce a real printed book so it's natural that digital copies may surpass physical books in terms of volume. Do Barnes & Noble, Borders and the independent book retailers, have the same fate in their future as Blockbuster?
Digital Books vs Other Digital Media
The book retailers have a much better chance at survival than video and music retailers of times past. The reason is that the printed book is not only the content, but the medium to deliver the content and the experience. You can pick up a book and immediately enjoy the content contained within. With a video or cd, you need to take that and place it into another device in order to obtain the content. Therein lies the difference. With a book being experience, opposed to a disk which is a simply the means to the experience, physical books can and will prosper.
When's the Last Time you Had Someone Autograph your Kindle or iPad?
It's this subtle difference between books and videos that make books irreplaceable as an experience. Downloading the content of a book to a digital device, while growing, cannot replace the experience of holding a real book, turning the page, physically sharing it with a friend or getting the author to sign your book by his/her own hand. It's a little more difficult to get a real signature on a Kindle or iPad, nor would you want one.
I fully expect digital books to surpass the volume of all printed books sold at some point, but there will still be a large market for physically printed books. At that time, only the best books will go to print. You should see, that even after digital books surpass physical book sales, that the physical book market will be significantly higher than other types of content including music and video combined. After all, books make great collector items and look good on a shelf as part of a decor.
With the launch of my new book, The Banner Brand, in hardcover print edition no less, I hope to see a continued market for physical books. However, being prepared for where the market is going simply makes good business sense. Therefore, I'll be releasing The Banner Brand in digital version in the near future.
The deciding factor comes down to whether or not you consume content for the sake of the information or you cherish the experience that goes along with the consumption.
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