Kate Eltham, organiser of the Brisbane Writer's Festival, was on ABC radio last Sunday talking about ebooks. She said that some libraries already loan ebooks, which got me thinking on the effect this might have on both libraries and sales of ebooks and traditional books. If most books come out in an ebook version there will be little need for physical libraries as ebooks could be loaned from web libraries, so I don't see much of a future for costly rural and suburban libraries. Universities and schools may still have them as places of study, but they might not have many physical books in them. State libraries would still exist to hold book collections.
If there are no limits on the amount of times an ebook can be loaned at once, there will be no wait for a popular book and therefore less need to buy an unavailable book. How many parents would tell their child that they could borrow the latest Stephanie Meyer from the web library for free, rather then them having to pay for it? Currently, with a printed book, the child is able to show their peer group that they have the latest Harry Potter, but an ebook is just words on a kindle or ipad, words that could just be owned or borrowed. Kate Eltham said that the files of library borrowed ebooks can only be accessed for three weeks.
The above musings change a little if the ebooks are licenced so only one borrower can access that ebook at once. I reckon ebook library websites could have a big impact on both ebooks and physical book sales.
In other news on the ebook front, science fiction author John Scalzi wrote a blog post on how a free ebook promotion of his books affected the sales of the physical version. The ebooks were only available for a week from Tor and he thought the sales of the physical version increased by 2% over the seven weeks after the promotion.
An article in The Age said sales of ebooks jumped 176% in the US last year and were worth nearly $170 million. Their share of the market went from 1.2 to 3.3 percent. Sales of paper books dropped slightly, but as the US went into recession the drop can be blamed on other things besides ebooks.
As usual I checked the top 100 ebooks on Amazon. This time found the number being sold for $2 steady at 26 when compared to previous weeks, with one free and six selling for $2 - $3.50.
Four Corners had a story on Scientology last night. Bad, greedy, illywhackers picking on the niave and lost. Had me wanting to chuck out L Ron Hubbard's novel Battlefield Earth. I think I will begin by unsubscribing to The Writer's of the Future.
Last week began with enthusiasm as a compelling short story idea took over my thoughts. I started to write it, but then other things started to get in the way, like a visit from relatives, lightning storms suddenly appearing just after I turned the computer on and a recalcitrant printer. I hope to finish the story this week - it could be a long one - and do some more editing of Stalking Tigers. It was great to be have my thoughts constantly returning to, and developing, a story idea.
When I finally get into writing again and have something more substantial to say about my own endeavours, I might start a weekly column on ebooks.