According to a recent MediaBistro article, “net sales revenue from eBooks have surpassed hardcover books in the first quarter of 2012.” The data comes from the March Association of American Publishers (AAP) net sales revenue report. I think that this was always expected, but it’s still indicative of a paradigm shift in book sales: It is now more popular to download a book than to pick up a hardcover copy at your local bookstore or order one shipped to your door.
While trade paperbacks still lead the industry in sales, it does seem inevitable that at some point, eBooks will make up the vast majority of book sales while physical books will fill a niche role. One of the main drivers of this surge in eBooks is the fact that people with e-readers just read more books. A Pew study, released in April of this year, found that “the average reader of eBooks says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-eBook consumer.”
Are voracious readers quicker eBook adopters or do e-readers just allow us to read more books? While a hardcover book obviously limits your reading to a single tome, an e-reader can carry a considerable amount of titles, allowing readers to flip between books without carrying the extra weight throughout their day.
Not only are readers reading more books, they’re just reading more in general (that includes magazines and newspapers). According to the same Pew survey, “41% of tablet owners and 35% of e-reader owners said they were reading more since the advent of e-content.”
If this is the case, it may be time for you, as an author, to consider in which formats you’d like to make your books available to readers. If you’ve published your book as a paperback, it might be a good time to hop back onto Lulu.com and re-publish your book as an eBook, so that it’s available to readers that way, too.
But does an e-reader allow for the deep reading that comes with being tied to a single book (while traveling or commuting to work, for instance), or does it just give rise to a browsing experience, similar to how we use the Internet? How has your experience of eBooks been? Do you find yourself not sticking with a book as long as you would have had it been a hardcover? Will you miss feeling the weight of a book in your hands, or is it finally time to say goodbye to those anything but digital ink?