Basically, since April Amazon has sold 105 ebooks for every 100 print books it has sold.
Have we reached the tipping point? I love books, but more and more of my purchases are for my Kindle. Heck, I even broke down and bought 5 of them for my speech team. With everybody and their mother carrying iPads and the like, are we seeing the beginning of the end for “paperback best-sellers?”
I notice that they only reported units and not $. If those ebook sold numbers include all the titles they “sell” for $0, then that’s a skewed metric. Most new kindle owners load up their kindles with the free stuff, so kindles sold will equate to a great number of free books being “sold”.
The sales of kindles are impressive though and I’d agree that the tipping point has probably been reached where people are arming themselves with some method of reading digital books, whether it be an iPad or a kindle or smart phone.
I’m OK with it. I transitioned to digital music painlessly, though I still buy physical CDs if they’re box sets or special editions with booklets and stuff (though I usually end up trading them in at some point after I’ve ripped them). I’ll still buy physical books as well, especially reference and art books, which are much more useful in physical format, as well as books I just want to have a copy of. But e-books are convenient, cheap, and a godsend for vacations and long flights. I love literature, but I don’t fetishize the method of delivery.
I don’t own a Kindle, I don’t buy ebooks, and I have no problem carrying a book around to read wherever I go, just as I have for the past forty years. When the Apocalypse comes and we have no more electricity, my library will still be there.
That being said, I know ebooks are getting more and more popular. I see them on the bus every day, as much as I see regular books, and it seems likely that mass market paperbacks will disappear entirely in the not too distant future (publishers have already been replacing them with trade-size paperbacks for years). I don’t think print books will come to an end any time soon, but they may become scarcer.
A friend of mine who works in print publishing believes she’s in a dying industry, but I think she’s just a pessimist.
I have a Nook, not a Kindle, but I imagine that my experience is relevant…
I can buy a book at 2 AM, and have it delivered/downloaded in a matter of seconds. The online store is open 24/7. If I’m able to buy at any time, I will tend to buy more books, all other things being equal. Before my daughter gave me this Nook, if I wanted to buy a book at 2 AM, I’d have to go down to a c store or to WalMart, and both of these choices don’t really have great selections. Now, though, I have an enormous choice ALL THE TIME.
That resonates with me, too. In fact, my wife and I were in Costco yesterday. I saw a book there that I thought I might buy. My wife says, can’t you get it on Kindle instead? That way we won’t have another book cluttering up the house.
I could have wrote this too except I just got my Kindle a few weeks ago. I just ran out of space for books. I kmet waffling back and forth whether to get one and then a friend made the choice for me and got me one as a gift and I love it. The only down side is I buy way more books now (my wallet hates that ).
I still buy some actual books but I foresee getting less and less as time goes on.
I think everyone with a Kindle could have written that. I haven’t bought a real book in quite some time*. I also haven’t bought a Kindle book in some time because I can get the classics either really cheap or free. Since I haven’t read a lot of those. I like that I can get all of the Sherlock Holmes books for $5.
The biggest thing that I have found I don’t like about the Kindle is that sometimes there are breaks between parts and I can’t always tell that on the Kindle. Usually it’s the couple of extra line spaces, but they don’t always show up on Kindle books so sometimes I get confused.
*I buy a lot of family history and reference books, but I don’t like trying to find stuff on the Kindle. The day they can have a pad that acts more like a Kindle and I can search like a pdf then I’ll stop buying books.
The free e-books aren’t being counted, but the cheap ones probably are. And though I couldn’t tell for sure, I assume the “print books” that they’re counting only include the ones sold directly by Amazon, and not the new & used books that you can buy on Amazon from third-party sellers.
I don’t find it hard to believe that, of the books people are buying directly from Amazon, e-books are outselling print books. And I think this article is indeed evidence for the growing popularity of e-books, but it doesn’t necessarily say anything about a decline for print books. For evidence of that, you’d have to look at how sales of print books—preferably from all retailers, not just Amazon—compares to sales of print books from one or five or ten years ago.
I think what it says is that people with Kindles buy more books. I bought ALOT of books before I got my Kindle. Many more than the average person and in the three weeks I have had a Kindle I bought more books than the 4 months of this year before it.
The fine print on this is tricky. Amazon sells more than just books on Kindle. It also sells individual articles and other short pieces for small amounts. And those are being counted, but not being broken out.
For now it’s impossible to tell from this lump figure exactly what is being sold and how many of each at what prices. It’s to Amazon’s advantage to hype the Kindle as the preferred e-book mode, especially with B&N pushing the Nook so hard.
I don’t have any doubt that the e-book market is growing rapidly, as it’s gone from 9% overall to 14%. But that’s still an awful lot of print books.