The Battle for the Ebookstore

Not being an Apple user, aside from the iPhone and my cute little nano, and since I also don’t have a Kobo (I know, I’m a tech grandma) I can’t speak to the changes  described in Mike Shatzkin’s “Publishing is living in a world not of it’s own making” directly. However, I think this idea that users will resent any inconvenience will not hold true for very long. We mentioned in class the other day, I think it was a point made by Zoe WH, that whenever our daily websites or apps make a change, there’s an initial uproar. People are pissed, and then they get used to it and forget how it was done in the first place, and any resentment disappears. The number of people who are angry enough with the change and unwilling to adapt, or opt to remain loyal to Kobo, and are driven away, are, I’m sure, so insignificant to Apple. Also, they still own Apple’s product, and are walking advertisements for Apple, whether they use Kobo or Apple’s bookstore. Additionally, new users wouldn’t know any different. It’s a very smart and sly and undoubtedly shady move for Apple, but at the risk of looking like jerks for a while, I don’t see why they wouldn’t automatically direct all users to their own ebookstore.

I don’t mean to sympathize with Apple, or justify their behaviour in any way. But we are learning day in and out, that publishing, and I include Apple in that realm, is first and foremost a business. It’s interesting to me that, thinking back to our first discussions in 800, we define publishing in this broad scope that encompasses all elements and channels of the book, from conception to consumption. Yet, Shatzkin is stating that “we don’t control our environment,” suggesting that we are simply a “cork floating on a digital device stream.” Are we simply just along for the ride? Or can we influence trends and, as publishers, be more actively invested in the channels of ebook sales? Should we feel obligated to align with the little guys (I realize Kobo isn’t exactly a ‘little guy’) in order to not become completely absorbed by the ebook Goliath? Or are we here to make money in the business of publishing? Shatzkin doesn’t seem to offer an answer to any of these questions his analysis poses, and rather takes the approach that it’s not even publishers’ fault that we are facing this ebookstore hegemony. While he notes the changes and the negative repercussions for all that are not Apple, he says simply that “a publisher’s role is to use the channels that are available to get books into the hands of readers.” Does this create a moral dissonance? We need to consider, as we head off into the publishing business, if we are willing to accept our role as inconsequential in the battle for the ebookstore, as it is presented here.

One Reply to “The Battle for the Ebookstore”

  1. The second paragraph of this response is bang on, asking very good questions inspired by Shatkin’s piece. It is unfortunate that the author does not offer us her insights, and begin to guide us towards answers.

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