German publishers are resisting the siren call of Amazon.com's Kindle. In fact, they're hoping this newfangled ebook fad just goes away.
Der Spiegel reports:
The German book industry is a stranger to this new digital world. According to the estimates of Goldmedia, 10,000 readers have already been sold in Germany. But, according to the GfK Group, a leading market-research company, in the first six months of 2009, only 65,000 e-books were sold, excluding specialist works.
Unlike in America, the cost of downloading an e-book in Germany is also frighteningly high. The Kindle's main competitor, the Sony Reader, has been available in German bookshops for a while now for about E250. But the Sony device cannot directly download e-books from the Web. And since e-books are just as expensive as their cheapest printed versions in Germany, they are still fairly expensive when compared to the price of the required hardware.
In fact, the price of an e-book can only go down once the paperback edition has hit the market, which usually takes about two years. Ironically, even Schatzing's "Limit" -- a science fiction novel that celebrates the technology of the future -- has not been able to get past these policies of blockade.
A survey taken at last week's Frankfurt Book Fair revealed that only one in 12 Germans even understands what an ebook is. 70% of those surveyed would prefer printed book over a digital one.
Jeff Bezos is hoping to change all that. The Kindle will be available in Germany very soon for a price of around $374, including shipping, taxes and import duties.