Bubble Bursts for E-Books

At the height of the Internet boom, e-books were hailed as the shining new tomorrow for publishers and paper books were heading for the scrap heap. But the bubble has burst and electronic books are still the poor relation to the printed word with consumers preferring to turn the pages themselves when they curl up by the fire with a good book. "The limitless euphoria of the beginning belongs to the past," said Arnoud de Kemp, a leading electronic publisher with the science and business media firm Springer.

Three years after the e-book frenzy reached its peak, publishers in Frankfurt for the world's biggest book fair of the year were in a much more realistic frame of mind. Last month, top U.S. bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc announced it was halting e-book sales. "We did not see sales take off as we and many others had anticipated," a spokesman said. Targets have been sharply lowered and now publishers look on e-books as a much smaller market which does still, admittedly from a very low starting point, see steady growth. "Expectations were widely overblown at the time of the Internet bubble," said British publisher Helen Fraser, managing director at Penguin. "But there is a small market for them and it may grow as different reading devices appear on the market. Sales do go up month by month," she told Reuters.

News source: Reuters

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