People have been talking about eBooks for almost a decade, and BAM! in the last year, a virtual eBook tsunami hit and now you read about eBooks everywhere, everyday.  In the halls of publishers and booksellers, there are a lot of ‘discussions’ about pricing, formats, cannibalization, what happened to the music industry, and what to do next.  Gartner thinks eBooks are at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.  Some journalists think the jig is up, game over, the Kindle is here.  Meanwhile M&A activity has picked up – both on the startup front and even in the retail sector.  That said, in a recent survey, a large majority of US consumers hadn’t even seen an eBook yet. 

There’s been a ton of action.  I draw at least 3 conclusions:

  1. The market is huge, and growing much faster than I expected
  2. We are in the early innings of the eBook market
  3. It’s Amazing

#1 – The market is HUGE, and growing much faster than I expected

The more that time passes, and the more that I learn about purchasing behaviour the more I believe this is just a massive opportunity.  The US book market is ~$25B, and I’ve heard some publishing execs say they think between 25% and 50% will go digital in the next 5 years.  The market looked amazing at 5-10%.   3 years ago I remember hearing 1% by 2010. 

How much does it take before publishing and bookselling as we know it is changed for good?

At 20% in 5 years, this is a $5B market in the US alone.  Add in the UK, the EU, Australia and Canada and you can double that number.  There is certainly enough room to create a global alternative to the incumbent booksellers and eBooksellers.

#2 – We are in the early innings of the eBook market

There is going to be a lot more innovation than we’ve seen to date AND there are forces at play that are going to make this a far more open market, then say, music.  

Devices – I swear I hear about a new device or a new eReading screen technology every week.  Laptop OEMs are getting into the game.  Smartphone makers are getting in the game.  Asian manufacturers that most Americans have never heard of are getting into it.  New screens are emerging.  Alternatives to eInk.  Colour.  OLED.  Low Power Reading modes.  Super Accessories.  Super All Singing All Dancing Apple Tablets… Device Innovation is happening, and it is going to far outstrip what any one company can provide to consumers, at an every shrinking price.

Distribution – Big box, small box, bookseller, department store, electronics store, phone store – the number of entrants in this space is going to vastly increase.  You should be able to get an eBook almost anywhere.  After all – a lot of people do buy books at gas stations, Walgreens and Walmarts.

Content – Black, White and Text All over.  That’s what eBooks equals today.   Not my idea of exciting, high tech, future, fun.  Nothing my kids would use.  eBooks are going to get more interactive, colourful, personalized, organized and magical. 

I firmly believe we are in the early innings, and as mentioned above – most people haven’t even seen an eBook yet!

 #3 – It’s Amazing

There’s this Conan O’Brien video that I thought was hilarious & recommend you watch called Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy…I thought of it when I met Paul Boutin recently (The Future of Books is Smartphones).  He was like – ‘Dude – this is Amazing!  I can pull my iPhone out of my pocket as I’ve boarded my flight, and in a few seconds – I can have any new bestseller to read for my flight.  Amazing. 

It’s been 166 days since we launched and it has been Amazing!  

  • People can use Shortcovers on the iPhone, the Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre smartphones
  • Almost 400,000 people have downloaded our apps, many more have visited our website
  • People from over 198 countries have visited us, and people from over 116 countries have registered
  • We have top books like Twilight from the world’s leading publishers like Random House, Harper Collins, Hachette, Penguin…and hundreds more are signing up
  • We have thousands of FREE eBooks like Pride and Prejudice, and FREE Books of the Week like FREE, by Chris Anderson – now a NY Times Bestseller for $9.99 US / $11.99 CAD
  • Almost 1 in 10 visits result in an eBook download (free or purchase)
  • People that buy, buy ~2 times per month, about the same as a loyal retail customer

For a startup ‘experiment’ inside of large retailer – we have had a number of successes, made many mistakes, and have learned immensely every second of the way.  We were not first, not with a device, nor an app, nor an ebook store.  And we certainly are not perfect, but:   

  • We are signing up customers…
  • We have a great team with bookseller DNA and technology chops…
  • We have great relationships with vendors, retailers and technology partners
  • We have a HUGE global market opportunity…
  • And we are in love with eBooks, in love with making eBooks accessible to everyone.

I can promise you that we have a ton in store in the coming weeks and months to bring eBooks and the best eReading experience to a device & retailer near you.