At the end of each year, there always comes a flurry of articles analyzing the “surprising” (??) downward spiral of the ebook industry. While ebooks will always be available, they have not been the do-all, end-all of the publishing industry as Amazon had hoped. At BookLocker, we still recommend authors publish print AND electronic editions of their books to attract all potential readers. However, we have been predicting for years that ebooks would never take over print books. And, we have been right.
Last month, Vox published one of those articles, “The 2010s were supposed to bring the ebook revolution. It never quite came.”
Here are the highlights:
1. Boomers read more ebooks than young people!
Amazon and others assumed young people would embrace the digital book reading revolution. But, they didn’t. After hours spent on phones, tablets, and laptops each day, young people prefer to curl up with a REAL book. Who IS buying ebooks? Boomers! And, this makes perfect sense. Older folks don’t want to drive to the bookstore. And, with ebooks, there’s no need to use reading glasses or a plastic magnifying sheet. They can simply adjust the font size on their reading device.
2. Ebook sales have “stabilized” at only 20% of the market (80% for print books)
According to Observer.com, in 2015, ebooks accounted for 27% of book sales. In 2016, that dropped to 23%. Things only got worse for Amazon’s ebook hopes after that. Since the numbers have continued to drop year after year, we do not think ebook sales have yet “stabilized” at 20%.
3. Ebooks aren’t priced as low as Amazon hoped they would be.
When publishers started seeing that Amazon might be their only customer some day, they fought back, refusing to let Amazon price books so low that those publishers would eventually go out of business. While ebooks are a digital file, a lot of time and money goes into writing, editing, cover design, file creation, marketing, administrative expenses, and accounting (royalty calculations and payments, to say nothing of the rest of the number crunching required for any business). Those expenses don’t magically disappear just because a book is released in digital format instead of print. In fact, the printing and shipping costs are a very small piece of the price of print books.
4. According to publishers, “Amazon was training readers to undervalue books.”
I completely agree with this. Perceived value! Selling a really good book for a few dollars makes people think it’s a “cheap book.” And, if readers keep expecting the next “best seller” to be only $9.99, guess what? Those best selling authors are going to start doing something else for a living. Furthermore, as with other industries, publishing houses would start going out of business. Eventually, Amazon would be the only game in town, offering publishing, printing, and ebook services, as well as controlling book sales. Do readers really want only ONE company controlling what gets published for the masses?
5. The article includes a breakdown of why books are priced as they are.
For anyone wondering why print and electronic books are priced as they are, please READ THE ARTICLE. The breakdowns are very educational, and may make you think of costs you’ve never considered.
6. “Self-published authors, meanwhile, are flourishing” because they can set their own prices.
While large publishers are forced to price print and electronic books at specific thresholds to stay in business, self-published authors have far more leeway in how they price their books. It’s never been easier to be a published author, and to earn money doing so!
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- 75% of Americans DON’T Own Ebook Readers – Are you ignoring 75% of the book buying market?!
- Ebook Conversion Services – You Get What You Pay For…Sometimes!
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