A few facts:
Last week on the USA Today best seller list, of the top 6 books, the ebook version outsold the print version. On the same list, 19 of the bestsellers had ebook sales outperform against print sales. After the big Christmas morning bonanza of eReaders, “165,000 e-book versions of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson” sold compared to “155,000 print copies” according to Paul Bogaards of Knopf.
A spokesperson from Bowker, a company which analyzes the book industry sales, believes eBook sales may not sustain their current inflated sales state, but Kelly Gallagher does predict sales of eBooks will likely double (up from the 9% of trade sales in 2010) during 2011.
For the longest time, I was resistant to the eReading Revolution. I’m a bookstore lover. With a capital L. My husband and I go on dates to Barnes & Noble. I LOVE (see, all caps) the SMELL, FEEL, and LOOK of books. WE have wall to ceiling books shelves in our ‘great room’. A new, lusted after book? To hold it in my hands is better than… well, you get the idea.
So when eBooks first became prevalent, I chalked it up to the (at the time) new erotica genre, never guessing the concept of digital books would go mainstream… and so quickly.
When the Kindle first came out (now predicted to sell 10 million+ this year), I was extremely skeptical that I’d ever get on board with the “newfangled” technology. And I say “newfangled” being a bona fide techy girl. I thoroughly enjoy building websites, blogging (I co-founded The Naked Hero, founded Books on the House and Books on the House for Kids/Teens, and have my own site), and pretty much living on my computer, so my reluctance to join the eBook/eReading Revolution was based solely on my love of physical books. I just didn’t believe the digital book would take hold across genres.
But I also give workshops to writing organizations about the publishing industry, and I teach at SMU (CAPE) in the novel writing track. My research for my teaching/lecture gigs eventually showed, also unequivocally, that eBooks were here to stay. A year and a half ago, when I saw that eBook sales were growing (up 120% in 2009) and print book sales were declining, I saw the writing on the wall.
When key industry players began going the indie publishing route, the writing on the wall became boldfaced.
Now the writing’s in Sharpie. It’s not going anywhere, and neither are eBooks.
The Power of Three
It may have taken me longer than, say, DD Scott (fellow WG2E guru), to get on-board with whole idea of ePublishing, but the Power of Three holds in real life just as much as it holds in fiction. It took three separate research sessions before I was ready to embrace the fact that eBooks are here to stay. I’ve accepted it, nee, embraced it, and I’m here to stay.
It looks like others are here to stay, as well. These are just a few of the many, many authors who are making waves (and $$) with their eBooks:
L.J. Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mysteries (yes, rumors are true, LJ will be here to share her story with us)
Tina Folsom (Tina will be here, too!)
So, who is reading eBooks?
Women, for starters. Women romance readers, to be exact. Recent intel from Nielsen BookScan says that romance books have taken the lead in sales. “…digital sales of the genre have overtaken print copies for the first time – which [eReading fans] can read without anyone else knowing.”
This statistic supports the idea that romance books are booming in the age of digital reading: 2% of romance in print in 2009 sold, as compared to 14% in eBooks. That’s a big difference.
Why is this? This article by Daily Mail believes the increase in the sale of romance books–what they call bodice rippers– is because it allows readers to have anonymity with what they’re reading. Those people who don’t want to advertise that they’re reading romances (or erotica…or whatever) can hide their reading preferences thanks to eReaders. I think there is a good side and a bad side to that idea. It’s great–if you don’t want people seeing what you’re reading. Not great–because with the idea that people are embarrassed by certain types of books comes the idea that there is something bad or wrong with reading those books. As an author, I don’t like that idea, although I understand it. Romance, particularly erotica, book covers definitely convey S.E.X. Seems understandable, then, that readers don’t want to advertise their topic, even though statistics say that romance readers (between the ages of 31-49) devour books at a rate of 3+ a month.
The NY Times wrote this article on Lusty Tales and Hot Sales which supports the Daily Mail’s article about the increase in romance reading. It seems the desire to keep one’s reading preferences a secret is growing.
I don’t care what people read, and, in fact, when I see a book someone’s reading and it looks interesting, then I see it somewhere, I’m that much more likely to pick it up. So one thing I’m curious about is what eBooks will do to the word of mouth element of book selling? I don’t have stats on that, but I’m curious about these things:
How you current eBook readers share the news of great books you’ve read on your eReader. Do you think there is a downside to the anonymity of books?