Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
This week, the makers of several e-readers unveiled their latest tablets. The introductions coincided with Book Expo America at the Javits Center, North America’s largest trade fair for the publishing industry. Inside the Expo, much of the buzz was about e-books, and the e-bookstores that sell them.
Donna Hayes, CEO of Harlequin Books, says her readers have taken to devices like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Harlequin publishes romances with titles like Her Desert Prince and High Stakes Seduction.
“They read a lot, they buy a lot, and they really don't want to have wait to get that next book,“ Hayes said.
Worldwide, someone purchases a Harlequin book every four seconds. Twelve percent of readers now get their shivers and thrills on tablet devices, and the number is growing quickly.
This week, Barnes & Noble, which makes the Nook, and Toronto-based Kobo, introduced touchscreen devices which they say make it even easier to download and read books. Meanwhile, prices are sinking.
But the competition isn't just in e-readers, it's in e-bookstores. Google launched one last December, and had rented a space to show Expo guests how it works.
Another company with an e-bookstore, Apple, was at the Expo this for the first time ever this year, though they didn’t exhibit, preferring to hold business meetings in a private room.
With so much happening so fast, publishers are trying hard to anticipate trends. But one person who's paid to advise them says it's too soon to abandon print.
“Print books are always gonna be reliable, they're always gonna be available, and you can them across the room if you don't like the ending,” said Michael Norris of Simba Information.