I don’t think it should really come as a surprise that Kindle ebooks outselling hardcover on Amazon. The process of buying a book is simple and fast. Since buying my iPad I’ve bought four books so far. The last book I bought was a couple days ago—let me explain how fast it was to do. I was reading the blog post from A VC about the book Grumby. The book sounded interesting so I typed the name into my Kindle app on the iPad. The book appeared in Amazon and with one click was downloading into my iPad. If I had visited a bookstore, between the time to actually travel to the store and track the book down could have easily taken an hour, maybe more. With that kind of effiecincy it isn’t hard to recognize why people are buying a ton of books for their iPad. The other factor I think is cost. I can buy a couple digital books or one hard cover.
What isn’t working is the design. Publisher’s need to start investing in better experiences with reading. Justified type with huge gaps between words is awful. I’ve also yet to buy a book that is image intensive. It’s a market waiting to grow pretty quickly. With that said there is one publisher that should be pointed out for actually getting online. Rosenfeld Media publishes books for UX people. I’ve bought a couple online and they read really nicely. They’re essentially pdfs but take the standard file a lot further. Anything that could be a link is hyperlinked in the file, and images a linked to larger files hosted on Flickr. They’re really simple and obvious things that no other publisher is doing in terms of the books I’ve bought for my iPad & Kindle app.