Let’s take a couple titles and look at their print and ebook charts. This is meant to be cursory; I expect someone like O’Reilly’s Ben Lorica is doing the empirical research.
First, a work on the Kindle v. iPad debate. The Kindle is for Amazon ebooks, the iPad’s for everyone’s ebooks. On Apple’s device you have iBooks, the Kindle app, and many other options. It’s also brainlessly easy to add your own epub files into iBooks. What’s that you say? You don’t know how to build epub files? Well, I’m guessing you don’t know what goes into converting wav to mp3 either. Within a month or two we’ll have plenty of user-friendly converters to choose from.
Now, if you’re worried about remembering which ebook you’ve purchased is associated with which ereader app on your iPad, then you probably shouldn’t buy DRMed content. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Returning to the Kindle, it’s easy to see how dedicated ereaders would fill one niche and the iPad another. Let’s face it: the Kindle is for large-print readers. I don’t buy the “avid readers” argument, especially when Amazon keeps their curtains drawn about actual numbers. I can’t remember if it was Verso’s survey or Bowker’s, but in one of them the customers reported their favorite feature wasn’t discoverability, or cost, or any of that. It was adjustable font size. The iPad and the readers who purchased it are a different segment. Like me. Hell, I work in publishing and I didn’t like reading on the Kindle. I associate screens with multifunctional devices, and it bugged the crap out of me that I couldn’t copy and email book excerpts to friends.
I believe we’ll see certain titles thrive more on the iPad than in print or in the Kindle store. The paid iBooks chart is an early indicator, though it’s important to note this is a relative ranking; it doesn’t correspond to volume.
So far, Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is #1 in the iPad paid charts. It’s #118 in the Kindle store, and #6 on the NYT Bestseller list. This should be taken with a grain of salt, as the iPad and the Kindle charts conflate fiction and nonfiction, while the New York Times does not. Additionally the Kindle store ranks free ebooks within their paid offerings, which is why 9 out of the top 10 ebooks are free. (Also, the NYT list is a weekly composite, while the other two are somewhat in realtime.)
Let’s compare that 1 title. It’s Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. #6 in the Kindle store, #3 in the Amazon store (for print), #2 on the NYT Trade Paperback Fiction list (print), and… not in the iBooks store. Right-o, Random House isn’t adding their books. Ok, so bad example.
How about Michael Pollan’s $4.99 Food Rules? #2 in the iPad Top Paid Books, #333 in the Kindle store, #17 in Amazon store (for print), #16 on the NYT Trade Paperback Nonfiction list (print). Like Graham-Smith’s book, it appears to be much more popular on the iPad than the Kindle.
Anyone spot other divergences between the lists?