Book industry wrestles with electronic future
\"He had just been asked what he thought of electronic books.
\"Does that mean you get shock treatment when you read?\" the actor wondered, shortly after speaking to a Sunday breakfast gathering at BookExpo America.
\"I keep hearing they\'re putting books on a computer. Does that mean you don\'t get royalties?\"
Stiller, promoting his memoirs at McCormick Place, was just one of thousands trying to figure out just what was happening in the publishing industry. BookExpo America, the annual national convention which ended Sunday, has traditionally been a time to meet, eat and make deals. But this year it also served as an ongoing educational program, preparing everyone from authors to booksellers for an increasingly digital future.\"
\"I think people will see this as one of the most significant moments in publishing history,\" said Michael Powell, owner of Powell\'s Books, a major independent retailer based in Portland, Oregon. \"It\'s coming down the road at lightning speed.\"
Statistics released over the weekend confirmed how quickly the market is changing. A consumer study guide reported that books sold online tripled their market share between 1998 and 1999, from 1.9 percent to 5.4 percent. More than 50 million titles were purchased by adults and no one doubts that number will increase, significantly.
\"There is nothing we can imagine slowing down that trend,\" said Barrie Rappaport, senior account executive for the NPD Group Inc., a Rosemont, Illinois-based research organization that prepared the study.\"