Evidently, e-books have become more popular compared to the paper books. As a result, publishers and device makers have come together to strategize how they can secure more shares in the world market of e-books. It is in this regard that Apple is said to have conspired with five major publishers to raise the prices of e-books. According to the federal lawsuit of 2013, it is claimed that unsuspecting consumers have been paying millions of dollars due to the raised prices of e-books. Despite the unending battle to control the e-book market, e-book readers are increasing every day. As a result, publishers and device makers are earning more revenue from the sale of e-books as compared to the paper books, where the sale is declining. Apple has easily made its way against Amazon and Google, which for a number of years have been dominating the e-book market. The anti-competitive deal by Apple is a clear indication that companies and publishers are willing to go to any length to outdo their competitors. However, fair and open competition should be enforced for the benefit of consumers.
Apple Antitrust Wars
Apple has been accused by the federal and other state authorities in its bid to increase the prices of e-books. In its defense during its antitrust lawsuit, publishers and their allies argued that they saw the need to raise the prices in order to handle the market prices and counter the dominance of Amazon. They denied that the policy was geared towards causing collusion in the e-books market. However, it has been seen as a move that will have a future implication for all Apple marketing practices because they have been regarded to have violated the marketing policies.
The government has a close look at what is happening in E-commerce. Notably, the government normally acts as a gatekeeper for E-commerce market through its iTunes and App store platforms that make it possible for the government to control what gets into the online market.
According to Steve Jobs, the Apple founder, "you set the price, we get our 30 percent and yes, the customer pays a little more, but that's what you want anyway". He used this description while advising publishers on their approach towards e-books.
Apple is said to have raised the price of an individual e-book by approximately $2 to $3. As a result of this price, consumers have ended up paying millions of dollars more than is required in order to access popular books (Chicago Tribute, 2013). However, Apple is said to have been coordinating an agreement by major publishers, which include Penguin, Macmillan, and HarperCollins among others.
E-Books are Cheaper Compared to the Paper-Books
Most of the e-books are relatively cheaper than the paper-books. Although the devices used to access them are expensive, the result is very promising. For instance, the book Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins costs $5.51 on Kindle while Moneyball by Michael Lewis published by W. W. Norton & Company costs $8.29 on Kindle and $9.72 in its paperback version on Amazon.
According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, approximately 28 percent of American adults use e-books. The books are accessed through the electronic reader devices that are common among the readers in the United States (Chicago Tribute, 2013). On average, three-quarters of the total percentage of e-book readers normally read six or more books per year. Harris Interactive further shows that 29 percent of e-book readers say that they can read even more than 20 books per year.
Rising Popularity of iPads
Despite the conspiracy to raise the prices of e-books, the new market statistics by IHS iSuppli stipulates that Apple's iPad has become popular among readers as compared to other media tablets. The research shows that the iPad has been able to secure 70 percent of the market share. IHS iSuppli, which is also involved in tracking the shipment of such media tablets, claims that Apple was able to ship 17 million iPads in 2012. It is an increase of 44.1 percent from the previous quarter. It is also estimated that the increase in shipment showed its market share rise to 69.6 percent from the previous 58.1 percent.
Apple has relentlessly worked towards innovating more advanced versions of iPad that has made it possible to keep its customers worldwide with a new taste. Moreover, it has made them possible to dominate the market on the long-term basis. Amazon with its famous Kindle has been surpassed by Apple. However, it has not been able to gain higher market share as Apple has done. Other media tablet companies, such as Barnes and Noble, have even decided to drop the prices of their Nook Tablets in order to try and encounter the dominance of Apple in the market in vain.
Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire have also been major competitors on the American tablet markets. It implies that in order for Apple to retain its market share over a long period of time, it must have more innovative ideas as other companies are also in a bid to launch more advanced products, such as the Microsoft and Google. In fact, the lawsuit filed at the federal of the supposed Apple's conspiracy to raise the prices of e-books is a clear indication that the e-book competition is never-ending. The innovation of new hardware and software to counter competition is neither coming closure as the marketing share gets on shifting as producers get more creative. Amazon has been leading in the e-book market share by almost 70 percent. However, the rise of Apple has resulted in a more competitive market. As explained earlier, Apple has overtaken Amazon and more dramas are yet to be unveiled on the e-book market.
E-Books Become More Popular Than Hardcover Books
It is evident that American publishers have been earning more revenues from e-books as compared to selling of hardcover books. According to a report by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) (2012), the net sales of e-books are higher than that of hardcover books. The report further shows that on average American adults used $282.3 million to buy e-books in the first quarter of 2012, which was an increase a year ago. The youth and children brought $64.3 million. In fact, these sales have been increasing every day. According to a research conducted by Pew 2012, the driving force behind the increased percentage of people using e-books is attributed by the proliferation of the reading devices, which include tablets and smartphones(Chicago Tribute, 2013). Thus, there is an irrefutable correlation between the rise in sales of e-books and the availability of e-reading devices on the market. The sale of paperback books has been declining daily on Amazon as it is being overcome by the increased demand in e-books.
Audiobooks have also taken their toll on the market. It is estimated that audio books are also in high demand, even more than e-books, as the consumer consumption keeps on shifting.
Some publishers have found it hard to believe that hardcover books are on their way to extinction (Laura, 2012). With the advancement in internet and media outlets use worldwide, paperwork has declined steadily even in some learning institutions. With some e-books going to cost as low as less than a dollar, consumers have no option than to go for what favors them. With about 950,000 books, Amazon is looking for new ways of selling these books at customers' preference.
Demerits of E-books
While the majority claims that e-books is the way to go, e-books have their demerits, especially for the library lovers. First, e-books can be deleted at the user will or by error. For instance, if a device breaks and losses all the data, all the books that have been bought and stored cannot be retrieved if a backup was not done. Secondly, e-books can be edited, something that leads to distortion of the original message or intention of the writer.
What is more, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) can decide to lock certain books simply because of their own reasons(Laura, 2012). A person who had bought such a book will end up losing it. On the contrary, if one had bought a hardcover book, there is no way one is going to lose it. Such a book can even be stored as an artifact in the house. While it is possible to find an individual in a bookstore with books published hundreds of years ago, e-books make it hard to store books that can be used for future reference. As a result, it will create a threat, where one will have to buy another book simply because the latter was deleted or distorted creating unnecessary expenses.
No matter which device one uses to access e-books, everyone in America can attest to the fact that e-books are taking over paper-books. Lawsuits may be filed in courts, we may complain about the rise in prices of e-books, the government may try to gatekeep the work of e-commerce but we will still buy them since we love them. The irreversible trend in the rise of e-books and decline of hardcover books is a clear indication of the future of bookstores. Companies have engaged themselves in unending innovation and marketing strategies in order to sell more. Average adult Americans have been the main consumers of e-books.
- Chicago Tribute (2013, June 23). Editorial: The Coming Fallout from the Apple Antitrust Trial;. Chicago Tribute.
- Laura, H. (2012, August 14). New stats show iPad surging again as Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet fall.