Video didn’t really kill the Radio Star–Will Ebooks kill Print?

Stayed up late last night searching the web for stats on ebook vs. print book sales, trying to get a pulse on where the publishing industry is heading. My first young adult science fiction novel, Joshua’s Tree (MuseItUp Publishing, Late June 2013), will be offered in an ebook format initially, and I worry about how much of the market I may be missing by not offering it in print. It’s probably obvious to anyone reading this blog that ebook sales have seen an exponential growth over the last few years, and we’ve all heard this new medium for the written word has turned the publishing world on its head.

In digging for the truth, I discovered the publishing industry overall seems to agree that about 25 percent of book sales in 2012 were in the form of ebooks, this up from around 18 percent in 2011 and just 2-3 percent in 2009. Oddly enough, most people read ebooks on their phones (iphone or ipod in my case) or on their PC. Surprisingly, the E-Readers (nook, kindle, sony ereader, etc.) aren’t the primary platform used for reading ebooks. I personally use a Barns and Nobel app on my Ipod to read most of my books (because, prior to my ipod, I read on a Nook and the B&N app allows me to access my old Nook library). The beauty of the Ipod, Iphone, or Ipad as an e-reader is you can download an app for any of the major e-readers, such as the Nook app and Kindle app, and read books from all those booksellers on one device.

What I couldn’t find out is a specific number for how many YA readers are choosing ebooks over print (though I did stumble in to some stats claiming over 30 percent for 2012). I’m guessing the younger crowd will be more apt to go for ebooks. One of my YA writer friends has her book in print and in the ebook format, and her print books are available in major brick and mortar book stores. She claims that only twenty percent of her sales are coming from the print books, that an overwhelming 80 percent is from her ebook sales. So, it’s hard to tell if the numbers given out by the publishers are still increasing dramatically, or if the YA market is just selling a lot more ebooks than the rest of the market. I don’t think print is dead and don’t expect it ever will be. Even if 20-25 percent of books sold are the print version, that’s still a multi-billion dollar slice of the publishing industry’s pie.

My clear preference is for ebooks. I love that I can carry more books on my ipod in my pocket than every library in San Diego county has on it shelves combined. In fact, I won’t buy your book unless it is available as an ebook. The only time I buy print anymore is if I want a signed first edition copy of a book as a collectable, and then I’m likely to stick the clunky paper version on the shelf to collect dust and purchase it as an ebook as well and read it on my ipod.



About nwharrisbooks

Born and raised in a small town in north Georgia, my imagination evolved under the swaying pines surrounding my family's log home. On summer days that were too hot, winter days that were too cold, and every night into the wee hours I read books. My face was rarely seen, always hidden behind a binding. I was nurtured on fiction. Now it is my turn to create some of my own. I live in sunny southern California with my beautiful wife and two perfect children (I may be biased). I write like I read, constantly. I studied anthropology at UCSB and medicine at SUNY Buffallo.
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10 Responses to Video didn’t really kill the Radio Star–Will Ebooks kill Print?

  1. Very interesting article. I too prefer e-books now, but more because I developed a visual disability last year and need to blow up the print. Before that, I was an avid library visitor until our library was infected with bed bugs. I refuse to take out a book from there anymore.
    I too have found having only an e-book available has greatly crippled my sales as a great deal of society hasn’t evolved to the e-book yet, and especially not middle grade kids, which is who I write for. But I think the time will come…

  2. sabina khan says:

    Great post. This is something I have been mulling over as well. I’m still not sure whether to go only with e-books or have some percentage as print books when I self publish. Will have to do some deeper research.

  3. Beverly says:

    A good question. My tween book was published by MuseItUp in January, 2013. It’s sales haven’t been good, but I’ve neglected to promote it, which I need to do. With my other books, I think the ebooks are selling a little better. I guess time will tell.

  4. Very interesting stats. Especially the YA figures. One of the novels I’m working on is YA so it’s encouraging that the target audience seems to prefer the e-format. *head down – bum up – back in to it*

  5. L.J. Popp says:

    Interesting incites! When I first got accepted by a publisher for my YA novel Treasure Traitor back in 2011, one of the reasons I decided not to go with that contract was because they only did ebooks and I wanted my book in print, too. My current publisher does both, but you’re right; most of my sales have been ebooks! I still like having the print, though. There’s nothing more satisfying than signing a copy with my vintage Victorian rose ink pen!

  6. Pingback: Getting on the Shelf | alliepottswrites

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