Bits About Books

Posted Sun, 02/13/11

A few short years ago, ebooks were considered a fad. Some people still assume electronic reads are not "real" books. Nothing could be further from the truth, but there are still certain echelons of society that prefer to deny constantly advancing technology. As far as I'm concerned, it's their loss. The world isn't going to stop for anyone these days.

eWeek recently published the article Kindle Books Outselling Paperbacks:

Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks moved through its online storefront. [That] apparently includes sales of books without an equivalent electronic edition, and excludes free Kindle ebooks.

Read Write Web reported that "ebook sales have increased by 193% over the previous year and sales are continuing to surge. Last summer, ebooks surpassed hard copies on Amazon, and in October 2010 Amazon announced that Kindle books were outselling print bestsellers by a two-to-one margin."

James McQuivey, author of the report on ebook sales, also said:

7% of online adults who read books read ebooks, but that 7% happens to be a very attractive bunch: they read the most books and spend the most money on books. And here's the kicker - the average ebook reader already consumes 41% of books in digital form. That includes people who don't have an e-Reader yet, which is nearly half of them. For those that have a Kindle or other e-Reader, they read 66% of their books digitally.

The benefit for authors is the big difference in royalty percentages. On average, print books give the author 12-15%, while ebook contracts offer around 40%. For example, if a book is priced at $5.99, print versions give the author .72 cents or .90 cents per book. Open the other hand, ebooks rustle up a more attractive $2.40 per book. In essence, more people are reading ebooks these days, which translates into a bit of extra money in the author's pocket.

I realize the importance of publishers et al, but if author didn't sit down and write a book in the first place, there would be nothing to sell. Anyone who writes understands how much hard work goes into a story, whether it be short or long. I don't think it's unfair to expect an author to be paid accordingly for what may amount to hours of reading enjoyment for many years to come.

On the downside, electronic publishing allows anyone to offer a book for sale. That's not always a bad thing, but to be realistic not all offerings will be up to standard. We all know that one person who is on the strange side and thinks they have the next great American novel in hand. It's up to the reader to discern the good from the bad.

All the exploding trends are being followed by Lee Goldberg, author of the Diagnosis Murder and Monk series of books. I highly recommend his blog A Writer's Life, where he describes the ongoing news about ebooks and successful authors foregoing traditional publishing houses in order to sell their own books for well-deserved higher returns.

POSTSCRIPT 02/16/11: The news that Borders files for bankruptcy, to close 200 stores has a correlation to ebook sales. According to the article from MSNBC "Borders filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, sunk by debt and sluggishness in adapting to a rapidly changing industry" and "bookstores have struggled as online sales grow and ebooks gain in popularity" and finally "Borders also suffered from a series of errors: failing to catch onto the growing importance of the Web and ebooks." The article from MSNBC also noted that "Borders' rival Barnes & Noble, which has 29.8 percent of the book market compared with Borders' 14.3 percent according to IBIS World, has done better by adapting to e-commerce and electronic books more quickly."

*Related Post: Bits About Books, Part II (04/25/11).

Irish Eyes: Writing

Tags: Writing