Will E-books Follow The Decline Of Recorded Music?

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The Decline Of Music And Ebook Prices

The reality of the digitised world of diminishing returns

Comparing digital books to digitally recorded music is not easy, as these two forms of digital media have a completely different history.

An avalanche of piracy hit the recorded music industry that in the end was saved in many respects, by Apple creating the popular iTunes platform.

Books became e-books, however, through the natural progression of technology and the creative marketing of Amazon in particular with its Kindle platform.

Both industries though, have developed during this period of upheaval from being in the hands of a number of powerful gatekeepers; publishing houses and recording companies, and now have a vibrant Indie market of musicians, songwriters, authors and poets, and this is a good thing.

The good news lasts only so long, however, as some warning signals for both music and e-books could be read into this article which reports:

Music sales at Apple’s Tunes have dropped 13% to 14% across the globe since the start of the year.

So what happened to iTunes, and why should it ring alarm bells for e-books?

Because it is all about streaming services offering even cheaper content, and it is becoming evident that digital music and e-books are now bedfellows in the world of digitised diminishing returns.


Since around 2000 to today, the cost of buying both digital recorded music and more recently, e-books, has fallen steadily

During this same period, two giant corporations, Apple and Amazon, have replaced the gatekeepers.

These two companies are not gatekeepers as we had before, as they have no expertise at all in either creating music or publishing books.

They have merely achieved a market monopoly in each industry, and have profitably exploited their market dominance. Business 101.

In Apple’s case, however, it was slow to react to the threat posed by subscription-based streaming music services such as Spotify, which undercut Apple iTunes prices, and ease of delivery. Of course, Apple now offers a subscription streaming service.

This is why iTunes sales have dropped. Amazon, however, has been quick to recognise the danger of e-book streaming and have recently initiated their own e-book subscription service.

But at the end of yet another change, from paying per download to paying a monthly subscription for music and e-books, there will of course only be two winners.

Apple and Amazon.

They will use their monopolies to buy, crush or thermo-nuke their competitors, and will, in the end, monopolise streaming delivery of ultra-cheap digital music and e-books, and make a profit.

But what about the artists and writers?

Will they make a profit from this new world of $9.99 (or less) monthly subscriptions? The all you can listen to and read for next to nothing each month model. Somehow, I really doubt it.

Welcome to the reality of the digitised world of diminishing returns.


More reading: Can Self-Published Authors Make The Minimum Wage?


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

One thought on “Will E-books Follow The Decline Of Recorded Music?

  • October 27, 2017 at 4:31 am

    The fundamental problem for authors is the lack of alternative revenue streams. For many music artists the physical cd is a loss leader – the money is in shows and merch, even for small bands. Not so, the writer.


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