Big news as some company announced they are gonna start a Netflix for ebooks! Too bad it is doomed to fail, but somebody has to be Orville in the paper airplane, right? But you ask, why fail? Netflix worked out great except for that little Quikflix fiasco.
Well, settle down and I'll tell you.
1. No profit in it.
Base reason, full stop, ask no more questions. Publishers and authors alike have no profit whatsoever in just giving away digital content right now. Reasons abound that will be explained below, but if you like we can focus on the crazy belief that everyone with a computer is a digital pirate willing to murder and pillage every text from Jane Austen to Dan Brown. Total horse hockey as my grandma will agree, but it does not have to be true for a publisher to be quaking in their stylish gold plated boots.
2. No user base for it.
Do a random poll of the people you know that have ereaders and use them on a daily basis. Go ahead and count the people with phone apps, too, I’ll wait.
Bunches, you say?! Liar. The penetration of even the common book into the market, much less and expensive ereader that needs an internet connection to get its digital meat from which a mind can feast… Just not out there right now.
3. No timetable on it.
Everyone reads at different speeds. Some people got to this part of the article in ten seconds, some of them are still wondering what the hell “horse hockey” is, calling over their shoulders to Martha to see if she knows. That uncertainty takes away from the overall numbers.
With that knowledge, how many books do you think the average person will go through a month? One? Two? Three max? That’s some really bad market numbers for digital downloads. Even the most popular books right now are hitting a couple hundred thousand readers. Popular hour long podcasts get those numbers weekly and those are free.
4. No fixed market.
What kind of DVD player do you have? Can it play the Avengers DVD from Wal-mart? Of course it can. That’s because the DVD player manufacturers got together and realized that they needed to agree on a format for these players or some of them would take a wash. Sony learned that lesson with the Betamax and Microsoft learned that lesson with HD-DVD.
Guess what has not made a decision yet? Between Amazon’s Kindle, ePub, and the other random file prep programs out there, a unified market has not been created. For those of you not tech savvy, all readers do not speak the same language yet. For those of you not language savvy, I can not help you. Find an infographic or whatever the kids like these days.
5. No Netflix or Amazon or Apple model
Let’s be honest. If this was possible and profitable, don’t you think some company would have jumped on it? Sure, Amazon had their Kindle Lending program through Prime, but you almost have to be a secret agent to figure out which books are program members and which are paid to be there like the whores they are.
I don’t mean to shock with the “whore” talk, but that’s what ebooks are being treated like so far by their pimp publishers as far as public libraries are concerned. Pay your fee, get a limited licence to have your fun, then back to the pen with the content. No thought is given to benefit the customer, the “patron” of these establishments.
What is really true in all this, what Microsoft learned when they announced the Xbox One, is the world is scared of change. People like their things, their books and their discs. The digital world is upon us, though, faster than other formats ever have been and companies have less time to make plans before being overtaken. One can only hope they get their acts together before a gap appears between companies that have the money to release books and the digital self publishing waterfall the world is now seeing. In that gap, you will have a generation of readers lost.