E-Books, E-Readers Create New Markets for Romances and Illustrated Books

Two articles by Julie Bosman, who covers book publishing for The New York Times, describe the opportunities created by the popularity of e-books and e-readers. In her article last Thursday, she noted that romance e-books have become particularly popular, in part because an e-book doesn’t have a cover that may embarrass the reader in a check-out line or a Starbucks. 

According to Bosman, 

If the e-reader is the digital equivalent of the brown-paper wrapper, the romance reader is a little like the Asian carp: insatiable and unstoppable. Together, it turns out, they are a perfect couple. Romance is now the fastest-growing segment of the e-reading market, ahead of general fiction, mystery and science fiction, according to data from Bowker, a research organization for the publishing industry.

The article also explains that downloads of romance e-books are “cannibalizing” sales of print editions, but publishers such as Random House  and Harlequin are attempting to capitalize on e-book sales by converting  their romance backlists into digital formats. 

In Bosman’s other article, published today, she reported that color e-readers  have created new markets for illustrated books, such as children’s books, cookbooks, and photography books. The illustrations and pictures in those books don’t tend to reproduce well with black and white e-readers, but do much better with high-resolution color readers like the iPad and the Nook Color

The final paragraph in the article grabbed my attention, though:

Some publishers have also had success breaking into the digital space by turning books into applications for mobile devices. Disney Publishing says it has reached one million downloads of its book apps, featuring Winnie the Pooh, Disney princesses and characters from “Toy Story.”

Among Disney’s  iPad downloads are the Winnie the Pooh Puzzle Book and Mickey’s Spooky Night Puzzle Book, both of which are $.99 each. So in addition to offering the book, in both print and electronic formats an enterprising publisher can create an application that ties in to the book and provides a lucrative additional source of revenue.

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