Over 203 million people use the Internet in the United States. In China, there are about 100 million. Worldwide, there are about 1.26 billion people who use the Internet for different purpose – whether it be for communication, for business, for learning, or for fun.
The Internet is changing the way people do things. Hardly anybody sends letters through postal mail anymore. People just send emails now. It is super fast and they don’t have to spend money on stamps. Renting movies in physical media is a thing of the past. People just watch movies and TV shows online. Newspaper companies have suffered since less and less people are subscribing to papers because the news is free and easily accessible over the Internet. Even advertising companies are now using the Internet more than television to advertise products. Some studies show that the US revenue for online advertisement in 2010 reached $26 billion.
The book industry is also being threatened with the increasing popularity of eBooks. eBooks are convenient, easy-to-access, cheaper, and they don’t take up much space since they are virtual. eBook readers like that from Amazon and Sony are lightweight, easy-to-use, and can contain hundreds of book in one device.
Naturally, although there are still many people who swear by the physical pages, a lot of people have stopped going to bookstores to buy physical books. With the eBook reader, people could just go online, find the book they want to read, download it within a matter of minutes and read it.
Not every book in the world has been turned into an eBook but many of them already have their virtual counterpart available at a much cheaper price.
Amazon.com, eBay.com, and Google, the three biggest and most successful Internet companies, have been making an increasingly significant amount of money through eBook, among other things.
Amazon alone made $7.28 billion in 2010 and they’ve only been in business for 16 years. Amazon not only sells eBooks but anything from garden gnomes to laptops. It also allows smaller business owners to sell their products in the website.
Google, the most popular search engine in the world, made $6.78 billion in the same year. Google has only been in business since 1998. It is possibly the best search engine in the world.
And eBay, the biggest online auction site and also 16 years old, made $2.2 billion. eBay allows millions of sellers all over the world to have their products auctioned off online.
The book industry and everybody involved in it took a major hit upon the arrival of these three giants. A number of bookstores, small and big, like Borders are closing their doors permanently because more and more people are buying eBooks instead.
Google once proposed the idea of digitally scanning physical book. The idea was for them to provide the option to scan books in major libraries. With that proposed service, people can basically just look up what they need – a quote, a page, a passage, a whole chapter – from a database so they wouldn’t have to buy the book or go the a library, obtain the physical book, and do a manual search.
Immediately, publishing companies like Penguin Books, Simon and Schuster, McGraw Hill, John Wiley and Sons, and the Pearson Group and publishing organizations like the American Publishers Organization filed a complaint against this proposal in the city of New York because they knew they would lose a huge amount of revenue if that were legalized.
Right now, Google is working on a project they call the Google Print Library Project. The company is working with several major libraries to put up their collection of books in Google Books. The site will showcase book pages, several book contents, card catalogue information and other things.
Google’s argument for this project is that information should be readily accessible to benefit the population for learning and research. It is a great idea and truly, most of the world’s population will benefit from it.
The problem is that every single person in the book business – authors, publishers, and booksellers – will be gravely affected by this project if it is ever successfully launched.