Popular (on google) blog entry offers criticism of current state of ebooks.
I think the main things preventing ebook use becoming more popular are:
- DRM and format wars. There is a proliferation of competing formats, generally with DRM over the top, so whichever reader you go for you are never going to get access to all of the available content. Whilst hacks and converters are available, when I was looking to find a way of converting my Liaden books into a newer format that I could use with my BeBook the website which originally sold them having gone out of business , several hours of online research persuaded me that this would be too difficult.
- cost and breadth of content. ebooks offered for sale are currently priced on a very similar level to paper books, so there s not much price incentive to buy digitally although the key retailers I ve seen have a points-type loyalty scheme . For example there still seems to be the hardback/paperback pricing difference even in digital format. I have no idea if this is driven by royalties or DRM issues, but in any event it s a subtantial barrier to entry. Similarly the range of ebooks you can get does not match up to printed books so if you re looking for something specific or maybe older, it might be difficult or even impossible to find digitally.
- no second hand market - once you ve read an ebook you can t really give it or sell it on to someone else. This is another reason why the pricing hasn t been particularly challenged.
I think until there s a similar threat to the publishing industry s revenue models as was experienced with MP3s, these issues are unlikely to be sorted out, at least not in favour of the consumer.