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In the recent times, the need to integrate technology into our day- to-day activities has become inevitable. This have had a great impact on the way people are able to access reading material, such as books, magazines among others, bearing in mind that most of these material can now be found as soft copies as opposed to the traditional hard copies. It is based on this argument that this paper will critically evaluate in whether paper media will survive or whether it be completely replaced by the e-media. Special focus will be made to South Africa and the U.K. The paper will look at how the emergence of eReaders, such as the Kindle, Smartphones and Laptops and Tablet PCs has revolutionized the access of books, via internet.
It is notable that the use of ebooks and eReaders , such as the Amazon Kindle, greatly varies from person to person, hence the need of market segmentation. Generally, the services of the e-books and e-readers are able to meet the needs of the customers, due to increased penetration of internet, which has substantially changed the reading behavior and pattern. E-books and eReaders have made it possible for publishers to come up with new formats of publishing, due to reduced operational overheads, hence more profitability. It can be concluded that paper based books will be completely replaced by e-media, due to their easy affordability and accessibility, thus the enormous need to improve the existing bookstores in future.
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Since time in immemorial, media have significantly played a vital role in improving the standards of living of many people across the globe. In the recent times, this sector has drastically changed as compared to all other years. This can be attributed to improvement on technology, raised competition from various players due to reduced barriers of entry, and raised technological knowhow among other key factors. Consequently, this change have had notable impact on the way people access and read books globally. Cyran (2010) argues that the emergence of web 2.0 applications, such as social sites, electronic marketing, among other notable applications have raised the awareness of people to the use of electronic books as opposed to the traditional paper based books. In the developed and emerging economies such as the U.S., U.K., South Africa, China among others, the use of e-books as opposed to the paper ones have highly been emphasized by environmentalists, who urges that e-books have reduced carbon prints as opposed to the paper based books.
Ballhaus (2011) define e-books as dignitary versions of printed books, distributable through out the internet. The file can be read on tablet, eReader, smartphones, personal computers, as well as on some mobile phones. Further, ebooks may be published in various file formats, such as PDF, ePUB, though this significantly varies from one publisher to the other. The multiple application strategy highly mitigates the challenge of competing file formats, as different customers hardly requires to move an e-book saved in a given format to another one that requires a totally different format. However, it is crucial to note that the use of e-books varies from one region to the other and different customers, hence the need of market segmentation (Goleman, 2010).
Based on the above arguments, it has become important for researchers to investigate whether e-books and e-readers, such as the, iPad, Amazon Kindle and the vast range of competing devices and the equivalent apps for smartphones and tablets are delivering the expected benefits to the publishers, booksellers, authors and the customers. This paper will critically investigate whether paper media will survive or whether it be completely replaced by the e-media. In this paper, special focus will be made to e-books and e-readers in Southern Africa and the United Kingdom.
Market for E-Books and E-Readers
The market for e-books and e-readers is rapidly developing. Based on this, it is therefore crucial for them sellers to segment their markets effectively to ensure sustainability. One of the clear evidence that can be used to indicate the quick expansion of this market is the raised sales revenues obtained from selling books as well as high number of people who read for leisure purpose. As urged by Ness (2011), reading books remains one of the very popular leisure times. For instance, in the United Kingdom, people enjoy reading books as compared to other leisure, such as playing video games and going to movies. In 2009 alone, more than US$ 108 billion was used to buy books, with Europe, Asia and Middle East region leading the pack. In the U.K. and South Africa, there has been a significant increase on the number the available eReaders. Some of them include:
It was introduced in 2007 by Amazon Inc. it was the first eReader model having integrated mobile access link to major online stores. The simplicity, integration and connectivity with the Amazon’s digital stores, have proved to be attractive to the U.K. and South African markets (Ballhaus, 2011).
This is a portable computer having a touch screen. Some of them include the iPad among others
Smartphones and Laptops
In the U.K. and South Africa, the use of smartphones, especially those running on Google android and laptops have been rampant. It is estimated that over 70% of e-books are accessed via Smartphone’s and laptops in these markets. All these wide range of the available eReaders clearly indicates the rapid growth in this area.
As indicated above, the use of ebooks and eReaders, such as the Amazon Kindle, greatly varies from person to person, hence the need of market segmentation. Market segmentation is an approach used by sellers to divide larger markets into certain subsets of consumers having common applications and needs for the good or service being offered in the market. For instance, in the South African markets, over 80% who were able to access ebooks were mainly students, aged 18-35. Likewise, this group was the one that bought the highest number of eRaeders, especially the smartphones. Therefore there is the need for sellers to focus on this group for maximum profitability. The figure below briefly indicates the market segment for key eReaders.
The Services of E-Books and E-Readers
It is worth noting that the services of e-books and e-readers continue to meet the needs of customers across various parts of the globe. Hayes ( 2009) argues that similar trends, which spurred the adoption of the e-books as well as e-readers, in the U.S. is the one having effects in countries such as the U.K. and South Africa. The services of the e-books and e-readers are able to meet the needs of the customers, both in the developed and developing countries, due to increased penetration of internet, which has substantially changed the reading behavior and pattern. They are also able to meet the needs due to the raised extent to which, customers are open to new technological developments. However, the ability of ebooks and eReaders to meet the needs of the customers, have been affected by aspects, such as market segmentation as well as TAM (Technology Acceptance Model).
Davis (1989) argues that Technology Acceptance Model offers a representation that is informative, on aspects such as design and acceptance, thus it is a crucial tool evaluating and forecasting the acceptance of the user to information technology as indicated on the diagram below
However, noting that there is a considerable difference with regard to the number of ebooks available for customers in the U.K. and South Africa. For instance, in the U.K., customers have benefited from the extensive range of English language content more than South Africa. For example, the Kindle offers at least 32,000 books and more than 1 million books can be accessed in English version via Google Books. Generally, in these two countries, the use of ebooks as opposed to the paper based books has surged in the recent years (Hayes, 2009).
Benefits of E-Books
There are various ways in which e-books are able to deliver benefits to the booksellers, authors, consumers, and publishers. For instance, it is possible for publishers to come up with new formats of publishing, due to reduced operational overheads, hence more profitability. For the authors, they are able to be distributing their books, thus raising output. In most cases, e-books are more affordable and accessible as compared to paper based books, hence more preferred by customers.
Conclusions and Recommendations
From the above discussion, it is evident that paper based books will be completely replaced by e-media, due to their easy affordability and accessibility. To improve this sector, there is need for bookstores, such as the Amazon to restructure, in order to cope with the rising number of e-books and e-readers users (Hayes, 2009).