Ebook Sales Continue Their Downward Spiral – Is Anyone Really Surprised?

Ebook Sales Continue Their Downward Spiral – Is Anyone Really Surprised?

It comes as no surprise to anyone in the industry that ebook sales have continued to dive. When ebooks first became well-known, many speculated that print books would eventually become obsolete. I never believed that. Hardcore book lovers (including myself) have an intense addiction to the look, feel, and even smell of print books. This often begins in childhood and, as far as I know, there are no 12-step programs to help those of us who are afflicted.

Some of you may not know that I created one of the first ebooks, before ebook was even a  recognized word, and long before Stephen King made them popular. You can read about that HERE.

After watching so many companies invest in technology to develop ebook reading devices, it sure seemed they would indeed give print books a run for their money. But, all along, I had a suspicion that ebooks might be a gimmick that would excite people in the beginning, but lose their interest in the end. Don’t get me wrong. There will always be ebooks. But, as I’ve predicted for years, there will also always be print books. And, the vast majority of people still prefer print book to ebooks.

One major problem with ebooks is the difficulty in giving them away as gifts. Books have long been a beloved gift, both for the gift giver and the recipient. Amazon is the #1 seller of ebooks (of course). If an author (or anyone) “gifts” an ebook to someone (a friend or relative, or even a book reviewer), that person can use that “gift’ to purchase whatever they want on Amazon. When the recipient receives their “gift,” they are given the option to “exchange for gift credit,” which is the Amazon gift card. The author then earns no royalties on that sale/gift purchase.

If a grandmother, for example, purchases a specific ebook for her granddaughter on, say, having a positive body image, her granddaughter can, instead, swap that out for a new nose ring or some purple hair dye. Perhaps Grandpa wants to send a cute children’s ebook to his grandson but, instead, since the grandson isn’t old enough to have an email address, sends it to the child’s father, who instead uses the Amazon gift to purchase some beef jerky. 

In a nutshell, the giver will never know if the ebook they truly wanted to give was ever received by the recipient.

Even more disturbing for authors purchasing their own ebook for someone is that Amazon lets the purchaser email the ebook download link to themselves, and then Amazon implies they can forward the ebook to another person later (making it seem that ebooks can be shared, with no additional royalties going to the author). According to Amazon’s site: “Email to yourself if you’d like to buy now and forward to another person at a later time.”

Another problem with ebooks is, if you want to purchase one for someone, you must first determine if they have the correct hardware/software to download and read that ebook, not to mention if they’re even someone who reads ebooks at all. None of these problems come into play with print books. And, you can’t gift wrap an ebook.

Print books will always trump ebooks in the gift department. That is one huge reason that print books continue to outsell ebooks, and why I predict that:

1. Ebook sales will continue to plummet.

2. Print books will never “go out of style.”


Authors Beware! “Gifting” Your Kindle E-Books May BACKFIRE!

CHANGING TIDE! Print Book Sales Increase While Ebook Sales Continue to Decline

The Ebook Trend is Definitely WANING! NOW WHAT?!

Why You Should Publish Your Print and Ebook Editions AT THE SAME TIME!

Three Times More People Prefer Print Books to Ebooks

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!

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.

WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.

BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.

PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.

ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy

BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!



Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE

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8 Responses to "Ebook Sales Continue Their Downward Spiral – Is Anyone Really Surprised?"

  1. Wendy Jones  March 22, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Hmm… and just when I was going to write an article, “I’m so surprised to see how well my Ebook sales have taken off,” after I raged the whole Ebooks concept, in general.

    I spend far too much time reading text on a computer screen for work, to want to read more of it from a pleasure book. Frankly, when I travel by air, I almost never see an E-reader in anyone’s lap — I see both hard copy and paperback books.

    I personally don’t have an E-reader and have no plans to get one, but ‘young people’ seem to have a lot of these devices. I have also seen people reading books on their phones — talk about eye-strain!

    As for two of my Ebooks versions of the paperback (Highlander Imagine: For Love’s Sake; & Code Name: Immortal), I have definitely seen more sales then ever expected (several hundred dollars worth in fact!). Paperbacks sell too, but I have noticed that France, Brazil, and Japan love Ebooks.

    Oh well — no matter the format, I say keep on selling.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  March 23, 2019 at 9:24 am

      I agree. I stare at a screen all day long and the last thing I want to do when I get off work at 10:00 p.m. (I really do work that late most nights) is look at yet another screen. 😉

      And, it’s always a good idea for authors to offer their books in print and electronic formats to entice the greatest number of readers, regardless of their reading preference.


  2. Pamela Allegretto  March 22, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    Since I only buy paper books, I had no idea that’s how gifting ebooks works on Amazon. I will tweet this information to share with other “not-in-the-know’ authors. Thank you for always teaching me something new. Cheers!

  3. Victoria Malyurek  March 22, 2019 at 9:18 am

    I agree with you one hundred percent. I had a feeling ebooks wouldn’t make the grade. I love a book in my hands to read. There is just something about a book and the six senses, as you have said! I wanted to say also that, I am a writer. I wrote, “I Remember Momma.”

    Victoria Malyurek

  4. Doug Ronald  March 22, 2019 at 7:49 am

    “Ahoy!” You are a gem. Please don’t ever stop being you and sharing your insight.


  5. Cathy Cade  March 22, 2019 at 5:07 am

    The one time I’ve found my Kindle Really Useful is when eating (we tend to use both hands for wielding a knife and fork here in the UK, so there isn’t a free one for holding a book open). A paperback always tries to close on me, however many salt cellars and ketchup bottles I use to hold it open. I suspect the number of books available in such a small package will also be a bonus on my long haul flight to New Zealand in a couple of months.
    Other than that, I prefer paper.

  6. jedidiah manowitz  March 21, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    not surprising. when it was new folks collected ebooks often free or dirt cheap just to have some to read. now they are fully loaded with stuff to read and are not buying them and taking fewer free ones too.

    the other link showed that audio books were down 21% not up as the main article claimed.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  March 22, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      It says downloaded audiobooks are up 37.1%. Physical audiobooks are, of course, down 21.5% because almost nobody buys CDs anymore.