Product Killers and Death Matches Is this all hype?

So yesterday I was catching up on older Scientific American podcasts. Back on May 19 the host, Steve Mirsky sat down with MacWorld editor Jason Snell to discuss the iPad vs the Kindle. Both were aboard a cruise ship during MacMania (oh to be invited to that!). The reason I bring this up has to do with what Snell called “product killers” and how this phrase really does not apply to e-books and the death match supposedly between the iPad and the Kindle and e and print books.
Snell argues that e-books are not killing print books, though publishers seem to believe this to be true. Instead e-books are complementing print books and boosting sagging book sales.  According to the US Census Bureau there are 309,418,642 people living in the US. Though Amazon will not tell us how many Kindles have been sold, we can almost safely assume it is nowhere near this number. Apple says there has been two million ipads sold; this is a drop in the bucket compared to our population.  Even if only half of us read that still leaves a lot of people who do not own an electronic reader so Snell’s argument rings true with me.
Snell also points out that Amazon is going to unveil an application that will allow iPad users to download books from their sight. This means Amazon not only sells its own e-reader, but is willing to sell e-books for its competitor. Snell says Amazon had to make a decision; does it want to sell Kindles or sell books. It seems this new application show us Amazon is more interested in selling books than competing in a death match with Apple.
E-books may be hot sellers right now but they are not in a death match with print books. As I was researching material for this post I came across an interesting interview with bestselling author M J Rose. She tells the story of how she became published. First she sent a manuscript out the old fashion way. This only garnered her rejection letters. Next she published it herself as an e-book and tried to advertize it on a website. She put the word out asking if people would kindly read it in exchange for a review. Many more people responded that they would prefer a print copy than wanted to read it in e form. She decided to pay for some print copies and ended up selling 1,500 in a year. A publisher saw a review of her book and asked for a copy. The rest is history; M J Rose became a bestselling author. It was only after she was known that e copies of here- books started to sell.  Rose says she feels e-books can be helpful to new authors, but will not replace those who want print books. It seems from her story the two types of books can complement each other.  I noticed over at Librarything’s Early Reviewer site requests for print books far outweigh requests for e-books.  This backup what Rose says about book requests.
So death matches and product killers may not apply to the publishing world as Snell argues. Perhaps what all this new technology means is that as consumers we will have choices on how we read and what we read on. The death matches the publishing world is yelling about may just be hyperbole; the sky is not falling on print books after all.  

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

3 thoughts on “Product Killers and Death Matches Is this all hype?”

  1. Very interesting! I've not been too worried about the death of print books– at least in my lifetime. Seems like a lot of the product wars are just spin– like the coke/pepsi war– gets people talking and buying. Good for both parties. On the other hand, the $1 internet tunes bring in money for the music companies but does seem to have impacted CD sales– well, according to hubby– he keeps up with the music biz. Could be another 'sky is falling'…


  2. You know, I do have to agree with your hubby. My 18 has never bought a CD, he gets all of his music on iTunes. Then again I still see miles and miles of CDs at my local Walmart.


  3. I don't believe print books are at risk. If anything, I think e-books are just an extension of the existing formats, as already stated. And who knows, maybe more people will be drawn to reading because of the technology.


Talk to me

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Amazing Waste

Repurposing Food and Reducing Waste


Shakespeare, Classics, Theatre, Thoughts

Nerd Cactus

Quirky Intellect for the Discerning Nerd

Self-Centric Design

The art of designing your life

The Ineluctable Bookshelf

Reading, writing, and states in between

Lizzie Ross

Reading, writing, dreaming


Stories of magic and mystery

Shakespeare & Beyond

A Folger Shakespeare Library blog

Commonplace Fun Facts

a collection of trivia, fun facts, humor, and interesting notions.

Elan Mudrow



Fiction reviews, Bookblogger, Fiction book reviews, books, crime fiction, author interviews, mystery series, cover, love, bookish thoughts...

Patrick W. Marsh

I write about monsters to explore what it is to be human.

Folger Education

Teaching Shakespeare

Shakespeare for Kids Books

Opening the door for kids to love Shakespeare and the classics


The 10-year Shakespeare New Year Resolution


Welcome to the world of cats!

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

The Book Review Directory

For Readers and Writers


screams from the void

%d bloggers like this: