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“We will compete because we have more loyal readers who touch us every day through our store, online and mobile,” says William Lynch, president of BarnesandNoble.com. “We have 77 million consumers in 726 stores every year. We have 7 million unique visitors to our site a week. We will leverage all of those consumer touchpoints; perhaps, for example, offering a customer a sample of a bestseller on their iPhone to try it out before buying.”
There will be many such creative offerings. But there are also likely to be snafus related to e-books. For example, Amazon.com in July deleted from users’ Kindles copies of George Orwell’s “1984” and “Animal Farm” after it found it was not authorized to sell them. While Amazon refunded payment, many Kindle users were outraged to learn Amazon could reach into their devices and take back books they had bought. Amazon.com CEO Jeffrey Bezos apologized for the Orwellian move.
There are bound to be bumps in the road, but publishers and sellers will get past them and continue to grow sales, experts say.
“In five years we will see a world where it becomes commonplace to see people reading digital books in public,” Rotman Epps predicts. “Today if you’re a Kindle owner and reading in public, you tend to become the center of attention. In five years it will not be as common as digital music players, but it no longer will be a novelty.”