A Real Page Tapper

22 06 2012

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

Malcolm Gladwell is one of the best writers of our day, and equally insightful. His books have changed the way I see the world. The way I think. The way I understand. And now, apparently, how I think I understand what has happened to the book market.

It was only a matter of time anyway. eBook sales have surpassed hardcover sales. Fire up your Kindle, Nook or iPad, and read a few pages.

Adults are gobbling books like never before, and much of the sales increase has been attirbuted to the fact that last holiday season’s must-give item was eReaders. And what good is an eReader without eBooks?

I started making the shift a few years ago with my first-gen Kindle, and then once I got iPad1, my life changed. Now to know me is to know that I go through books faster than a swarm of locusts can devour a crop. I have the filled shelves at home to prove it. But I also have a rapidly filling iPad as well. And my back (and shelves) have never been happier.

Sure, I still purchase some tangible books, especially out-of-print books, coffee table books (I love travel and history books with lots of photography), and the rare book that is not…perish the thought…available in Kindle format.

But who would be so foolish to not do this?

There are a few publishers, to be sure. But Gladwell has once again hit the mark with his observation, and I suspect there will be no turning back. And it should scare the bejabbers out of BAM retailers.

Sure, Barnes & Noble has some insurance with its Nook, but it still has a lot of expensive real estate to maintain. Those stores did not come cheap, and once you couple labor, utilities, taxes and inventory, it begins to look grim. And as for those companies without any kind of eBook presence, the road is only going to get bumpier.

Amazon has so completely dominated this field that “Kindle” has almost become synonymous with “eBook.” Monthly specials entice readers to sample authors for little or nothing, further endearing us to our tablets. And like Apple getting us hooked on iTunes for music, Amazon has become our dealer of choice.

So enamored am I of eBooks that I am exploring options of self-publishing my lecture notes in Kindle format. Not that I expect them to be the next Stephen King novel in terms of sales, mind you. It’s just that this whole eBook thing is rather contagious. You can easily tote dozens of books around with you in one small package, and you look pretty dang smart and au courant reading on the commuter train or airplane. I am hooked.

As Gladwell also said in The Tipping Point, “There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” I’d say that Amazon has done just that, along with the numerous imitators since then. That wildfire is simply out of control.

Dr “Read All About It” Gerlich

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