How significant are Apple’s eBook numbers? Very!

I have seen a lot of people question just how significant are Apple’s eBook numbers since they started coming out. The nature of the numbers is frequently questioned as they are download numbers.  That means that it includes books that are available for free and those that users have actually purchased to read on their iPads.

Many seem to taking this indiscrimination as a basis on which to build a theory that Apple’s numbers are not significant, that they aren’t indicative of sales and therefore of sales potential.  Well, consider this for a moment.  I would say that anyone that went to the trouble of downloading iBooks, which doesn’t come installed in the device, is at least curious about the reading experience in the iPad.

The numbers revealed by Apple do not include the free copy of Winnie the Pooh that anyone that downloads iBooks receives.  Do you notice what this means?  Anyone that was simply curious but not enough so to become a reader on the iPad could already have stopped right there.  They have seen the reader application, they have seen a color illustrated book… What else could they hope to see from downloading a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, for example?

I guess we can surmise that most people downloading free eBooks from Apple’s iBookStore are, at least, a bit interested in reading them. With this in mind I would say that 600.000 downloads in less than a full week is a significant number of books and this number is likely to climb pretty fast as more and more iPads are sold.

But let’s consider this a bit further.  If these readers have iPads, they might or might not be avid book buyers, but they do occasionally read books on their iPads and they are about to go on a plane trip… If your titles are not available for purchase and download to their iPads, do you think they are going to turn off the devices and try to find the airport bookstore so that they can get your book for the flight or would they be likely to simply pick another title from the iBookStore?  Perhaps even a free title, if they don’t immediately see a commercial one that draws their attention?

Lets get real about this.  If I have a fully charged iPad and I’m about about to go into a long flight, I’ll stock up on books and/or movies to read and watch on the device.  Most people will probably do the same.  The iPad is lighter to carry, takes up less space and can provide several different types of entertainment in addition to reading books.  With its WiFi turned off for the flight it will probably yield some 11 to 12 hours as it seems that even watching movies with the radio on all the time it can go for nearly 11 hours.

If your titles are not available for reading on the iPad (be it through iBooks, Kindle, Stanza, eReader, Kobo or some other application) many of these readers will be as good as lost to you as potential buyers.

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