Officially, the physical relationship with Microsoft was only two years in length and ended a scant few years ago. The stories in the geek press and rumors in the geek world go waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back into the 1990s. Recently, the bn.com Web site has gotten a bit more functional. They’ve also integrated external vendors. It is mostly too late. The gray hairs in management are still focused on the traditional market. Books-a-Million and other book stores have opted to bring in Espresso Book Machines in an attempt to have each store stock millions of titles. Barnes & Noble later followed suit.
The era of the eReader is basically over. Why spend $300 for an eReader when you can get an Android based 2-in-1 for under $100? Nook and many others have programs and apps for most popular devices and operating systems. There is even free software for Linux and other platforms called Calibre which not only lets you read ebooks, but, you can create them with a bit of effort.
Ebook sales have been slowing. Indie book stores are coming back in various forms. Supermarkets and big box stores have been adding spaces for book sales, mostly the floor space is rented by a third party which stocks it and sets prices.
There are two problems which have not been solved.
- Have it now.
- High cost of toner printing.
Have it now was supposed to be solved via ebooks. The eReaders were expensive and problematic. Trying to read a book on an idiot phone with a screen small enough to fit in one’s shirt pocket is infuriating for most. Others don’t want to take their laptop/tablet/2-in-1 to the pool or beach for obvious reasons. For the time being, the “have it now” question is being solved by the supermarkets and big box stores. Busy consumers tossing a book in the cart. Mega publishers like this because they don’t have to do business with Amazon and they don’t have to suffer the massive returns from book store chains. The down side for indie authors is that the big publishers have titanium clad contracts with the companies stocking those shelves. Usually no-returns contracts.
The high cost and low quality of toner printing is a technology hurdle devices like the Espresso Book Machine cannot solve. It can solve international shipping and now that they are hooked up with IngramSpark’s Lightning source, indie authors are available for sale at any Espresso Book Machine location. The consumer just doesn’t know about us and can’t suddenly be taken by our book cover while passing a table.