Just when you think things are stable in the world of the big three tablet/e-reader battles, they aren’t. There was interesting news from Apple this week which makes some folks wonder if they are planning a bigger push into the book space. Amazon could (should?) be nervous, but so far they haven’t flinched.
Up until now, the Mac OS did not include iBooks on the desktop. Well, with the new Mavericks release, launching this fall, it will (Geekwire reported). Why is this significant, you might ask? This gets interesting when you look at the data (I know, me and data!) According to PEW Internet research, “46% of computer owners consume e-books on their computer”. NBC news reports further that “Of those who have read an e-book in the past 12 months, 42 percent said they read it on a computer; 41 percent on an e-book reader; 29 percent on a cell-phone and 23 percent on a tablet.” I confess the computer number was a bit of a surprise to me.
The potential disadvantages for Apple come from two sources. First, they have a smaller book catalog than Amazon, about 10% less. This means consumers may choose to remain with Amazon regardless. Second, the Department of Justice lawsuit is ongoing, and looking pretty dicey for Apple (as reported on Digital Book World ).
At the nearly the same time, Barnes and Noble announced it would not support older legacy PC software for the desktop saying, “We are no longer supporting NOOK for PC for Windows 2000/XP/Vista. To enjoy the NOOK content on your PC please use the NOOK for Windows 8 App or NOOK for Web.”. On the one hand this sounds bad, on the other, it isn’t really that huge a change for them since they already didn’t support the latest versions of Apple’s Mac OS X.
So, what does this all mean for your book marketing efforts? Ironically, probably not a whole lot. Although it may mean that you should consider the iBooks store this fall (if you haven’t), because there is a smaller pool, you might be able to stand out. On the other hand, Apple is notoriously harder to work with than Amazon, takes longer to “approve” your uploaded file, and has few (if any) marketing programs for authors (versus KDP Select). As far as Barnes and Noble’s latest move, well, I can’t say it does anything for your Nook strategy. I had high hopes when Microsoft invested in them a while back, thinking they would potentially clue in and do more to make themselves a platform for Amazon to worry about, but no such luck thus far (similar conclusions were reached by Geekwire last month when Nook announced a new deal with Google Play – say what?).
To sum up, pay attention, not because you should panic, but because you could take advantage. Know that the more they fight to win the tablet wars bringing those hardware prices down, the more books you will be able to sell! Remember, tablet and ereader consumers read 40% more than their print counter-parts per PEW data – yes, more data. If we are lucky, someone will start giving the readers away and we can really go to town!