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Dedicated e-readers 'irrelevant,' say many publishing executives

January 17, 2013|By Carolyn Kellogg
  • Jeff Bezos introducing the Kindle Paperwhite dedicated e-reader.
Jeff Bezos introducing the Kindle Paperwhite dedicated e-reader. (Al Seib )

Is your Kindle e-reader "irrelevant"? Yes, says a significant share of publishing executives.

That's one of the most interesting pieces of news to come out of Digital Book World, publishing's annual e-reading conference, which got underway Wednesday in New York.

Publishers Weekly reports on the opening day of the conference, where media analyst James McQuivey presented the results of a Forrester Research study that surveyed 53 publishing executives in an effort to discover their companies' "digital readiness."

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said standalone e-readers are "irrelevant." But they're not down on digital: 60% cited tablets -- such as the iPad or Kindle Fire -- as the ideal e-reading device.

This year, 85% of those surveyed are optimistic about the role of e-books. But when it comes to specifics, there seems to be some anxiety. Just "64% believe that publishers are 'capable of competing' in the new digital marketplace," Publishers Weekly reports, and "55% are confident that their own companies can compete." McQuivey noted that both those figures are down about 10% from last year.

Maybe the worries come from a tension between moving forward and figuring out how to make moving forward profitable. Most of the executives -- 85% -- produce apps, but almost half of those, 45%, say they're too expensive too produce. Only a minority -- 21% -- see apps presenting a revenue potential.

Digital Book World continues through Thursday.


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