Sony Predicts ebooks to outsell Print within 5 years

Sony has predicted that sales of e-books will overtake those of printed books within the next 5 years. This was announced by the President of Sony's "digital reading division" - Steve Haber who has gone on to say:

"Three years ago, I said within ten years but I realised that was wrong - it's within five"

Haber claims that the online e-book market is moving in the same way that the music market did when that became digitised. It is a claim that sounds quite plausible, with the release of first the e-readers, then the smarter smart phones like the Iphone and Google's Android based phones and then the net-books and now the "tablets" the need for digital content has never been greater.

There are also a massive amount of e-books that are available completely free of charge from Google books, Gutenberg and our own humble site to name a few. The pricing model for paid e-books however, as mentioned on this site previously is counter-productive to this trend from many publishers and retailers, not all the savings over printed books are being passed on to the equivelent e-books, instead most publishers or retailers are just taking the opportunity to increase their profit margins.

It's good to see however that not all publishers are out to turn a fast buck though and there are those that have the foresight to encourage the growth of the e-book market. Not least of these are the recently turned independent publisher Angry Robot Books who offer their e-books for less than half the price of the same paperback.

I do agree that eventually e-books are going to outsell the printed book, it's just too tempting to be able to download and read a book the instant you buy rather than waiting for the postman but books are a very sensory experience, the feel, the smell and the look all contribute to the reading experience for any serious reader. When you also consider the massive second hand market for books (many of which you can actually buy for less than the cost of the equivelent e-book) then it seems less likely that e-books will monopolise the market in quite the same way music has.

It's also not the same to have some files sitting on your phone / tablet / computer rather than row after row of printed books. For these reasons I believe that we will always have the hard copy versions and there will eventually become a balance between the two mediums.