"We’re moving toward a highly evolved, hybrid market," said Jack McKeown, president of Books & Books Westhampton Beach. He was citing the current state of book buying in the TOC panel "The Changing Face of Retail Bookselling," specifically the statistic that, as e-readers increase, so does resistance, a figure found in the 2011 survey of Book Buying Behavior.
While we are currently in the “early majority” phase of the e-reader technology adoption curve (with the devices seeing a 15% market penetration), what the industry is seeing is people moving out of the “not sure” column in one of two directions, either toward the area of resistance or the area of acceptance of e-reader purchase.
McKeown’s fellow panelist Jeremy LeBard, cofounder of ReadCloud, also talked about the future hybrid market, stating: "There is a capability for an online and a retail environment because we interact with each other in a 3D world." LeBard said the agency model really levels the playing field for retailers (without it, "it’s just a game of who can hold their breath the longest") and that retailers are already focusing on one of their strengths: providing community outreach and events, which LeBard likened to the performance aspect in the music industry.
This hybrid market is possible because there is no "killer device" like, for instance, the iPod for music. As long as there are options for digital migration, there will still be multiple opportunities in a hybrid marketplace, said McKeown, including the possibility of an independent bookstore-branded e-reader device. For the 2011 survey McKeown cited, a number of different demographics said they would be interested in such a device, including 13% of women over 45 stating they’d be interested. The price for this device? Respondents agreed that it should be around $100.