(ahem) We'd like to announce that...
"Electronic books more than doubled in popularity in 2011, with ebooks outselling hardcover books in adult fiction for the first time, according to a survey released on Wednesday!"I'd like to point out a couple of things. First of all, this is old data. 2011? Really? We're nearly eight months into the new year, and now we're just getting the sales data. This makes me think that 2012 is going to be even better, perhaps with e-books outpacing paperback as well. Or, if not in 2012, then perhaps in the near future.
The second thing is: This is old news. No one who has been paying any attention to the tsunami that has swept over the publishing world can be remotely surprised by this. E-books are not only here to stay, they are swiftly becoming the preferred way for readers to feed their book habits. The reasons are quite simple:
1. Price. E-books (especially independent e-books) are usually more affordable - to the tune of several dollars - than print books. Mostly, this has to do with the cost of printing (not to mention the failure of e-book readers to factor in the price of their e-reader into the purchase of the books. No matter. I'm not complaining!), though many e-books are free!
2. Immediacy. E-books arrive as soon as you download them from the web. There's no spending gas to run to the book and mortar store, or days spent waiting for the USPS, FedEx or UPS truck to arrive with your package. An E-book is ready when you are.
3. Portability. E-readers are a library in your pocket. My daughter loves reading and is desperately saving her pennies for either a Nook or a Kindle (she hasn't decided yet). For my part, I am encouraging this every step of the way--if only because I don't like lugging around the bag o' books she likes to sign out of our library (she gets out upwards of twenty at a time!).
Selection isn't quite yet the fourth factor, but it probably will be in the near future. For some authors, especially the indepedents, e-books are all they do. At the very least, this means that there are some books available electronically that cannot be purchased any where else. The same can be said, for now, of print books (and probably to a far greater extent), but this is changing. As more and more publishers recognize the value of e-publishing versus p-publishing, this trend will only continue.
And while I don't know if this is a factor where readers are concerned, it certainly is one for writers, and that's access and bigger royalties. As an independent author, I can release my books when I want in whatever way I want. I get a larger share of the royalties, and I have far more control over the process than by going with a traditional publishing house. True, I've had to learn how to design book covers and develop the interior of a book to look pleasing to the eye, and I'm still having to learn how to market (though I must point out that I have to do this anyway with my traditionally published works), but overall, the success and control over my own creative works make e-publishing a very attractive alternative to the old way. Given that my overhead is far lower than that of a publishing house, I also don't need to sell nearly as many books to turn a profit, and many authors have gained greater financial independence than could ever have done so under the old system.
Change is good.