I knew this day was coming. This is the first year that paper books sold and eBook sales reached parity in our company in one year. In the time since we began producing eBooks, our hard copy sales were always better than eBook sales – until this year. As of a week ago, our eBook sales outpaced the paper books.
This is something my wife predicted. I was the skeptic; I thought most would prefer pleasure reading from real books and not from electronic devices. However, things change. Life happens. Progress marches on regardless of whether we want it to or not.
People ask which do I prefer when I am reading? My answer is always, “It depends.” Being a bibliophile, I prefer old-fashioned pages I can turn while reading for pleasure. I relish the tactile feeling of turning those pages, the smell of a new book, the musty odor of an old and favorite book being reread for the fourth or fifth time. There is nothing better on a drizzly afternoon when you really can’t do anything else other than sitting inside with a good book and taking your time to savor the words of an author who passionately created the book, seemingly, just for you.
When I am researching a topic, however, nothing beats an electronic version of a book. (I really like that Control-F function.) Computers have really changed the way we explore the world, a topic, and write about various subjects. Electronics have made the business of writing so much easier. Of course, you have to have something to say that interests others to the point of reading.
When it comes to producing books, electronic books are gaining ground against paper books, in the context of promoting and selling. Catalogs can be perused much easier and across more subjects than walking through a bookstore physically looking through a limited selection of titles.
Publishers Weekly reported that 687.2 million books sold last year, an increase of 1.9 percent over the previous year. According to Forbes, between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books are published in the United States each year. Breaking that down into days means that every day, 1643 to 2740 books hit the bookshelves, physical and virtual. Many of these titles are self-published. When it comes to a self-published book, rarely does a title sell much more than 100 copies. Most sales are to friends and relatives.
The reasons for the low sales numbers include many. Poor formatting of both the interior and/or cover, mistakes in grammar, editing that is not up to par, inadequate marketing, and low enthusiasm on the part of the author to get out and help get their work to the public. Many authors have chosen the self-published eBook route for their work, which is a contributor to the explosive number of books available for sale today. Unfortunately, while there are more books for sale, the book industry continues to decline.
There are many theories behind dwindling sales. For one, fewer people are reading books. Life has gotten in the way, some regard reading as too time-consuming; many are too impatient to wait for the story opting to go to the movie instead.
These are the people who never learned how to read correctly and never acquired the pleasure of reading. They are unaware there is so much more to the story than what is depicted in a Hollywood adaptation.
Maybe more will become readers in the future.
Regardless, I am glad we started publishing and selling eBooks a while ago. I thank my wife, Ardis, and one of our authors, Patrick Kendrick for pushing me in the right direction when it came to eBooks.