Tuesday, July 20, 2010

E-books Surpass Hardback sales at Amazon

Here’s food for thought as I ponder publishing my book:

Yesterday, Amazon.com said it sold 180 e-books for each 100 physical books in the past month, and that, over the past three months, more e-books than hardcover books.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to the Wall Street Journal, credits a cut in the price of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader as a significant factor in helping e-books to their significant tipping point this summer. Makers of other e-readers, including Sony, Barnes and Noble and Apple also noted increased sales in e-books.

What does this mean for the sale of physical, paper books? A few things. Amazon says that the uptick in e-book sales was also accompanied by an uptick in physical book sales, though, obviously not to the same degree. The Wall Street Journal also quotes representatives of traditional publishing houses who are saying that there’s simply not enough data out there to say whether increased e-book sales are going to hurt traditional paperback sales.

That time is coming.

Nathan Bransford, a literary agent whose blog I follow, had this to say about e-books in a March blog post:
People will still have that choice and there are some books that simply can't be replicated digitally. But when faced with a better option, consumers shift extremely quickly. Right now the benefits of e-books are a little murky except for early adopters and those that can afford the devices. But that's just right now. Pretty soon they're going to be better (color! design! portable! interactivity! instantaneous!) and cheaper. Readers won't pay a premium for an inferior print product out of habit and nostalgia in great numbers.

The e-book era is going to be one of incredible innovation and unlimited opportunity, and people who don't see e-books dominating the future of the book world are ignoring the coming innovation and creativity and affordability. I refuse to believe the skeptics and pessimists. Books are about to get better.

So an e-book is definitely in my future. A publisher who wants to go ahead without such an option is off my list. And that sounds scary – would I really pass up publishing a book if they said an e-book was off the table? Ask me again when the opportunity arises, but for now, sitting where I am, I’d have to say yes.

No comments: