Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Will You Ever Buy Mostly E-books: The Results

The results!

For the first time in the poll's four year history, more people welcome e-books than say they'd never give up print (as of this writing):

The percentage of people who said you'd have to pry paper books out of their cold dead hands:

2007: 49%
2008: 45%
2009: 37%
2010: 30%

The percentage of people who welcome their coming e-book overlords:

2007: 7%
2008: 11%
2009: 19%
2010: 32%






43 comments:

Porter Anderson said...

Yo. Behold the tipping point!

michaelvankerckhove said...

I missed the poll, but I have ZERO interest in holding an e-book in my hand. While I both download music and still buy CD's, I've yet to live in both worlds on this front. Of course, as a writer who wouldn't mind being published on a larger scale down the road, I would not object to being included in an e-book roster. Just sayin'. Cheers, Michael

The Editor Devil said...

Finally!!! We're already there. 2 Sony readers and a Kindle in our house. Husband is reading the full Neal Stephenson series on his K so not to lug around the tomes. I'm reading Wuthering Heights in larger print, better for my dyslexic eyes. And the book's free.

It's the older generation I believe that is discovering the larger print payoff. Kids can't afford it much. Would love to see the breakdown on consumers.

Rick Daley said...

"Oh the times, they are a-changin'"

- Bob Dylan

Now go back and read that again in an uber-nasally voice for the full effect.

WORD VERIFICATION: tercha. A controversial way to extract information from terists.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Where's Che Guevara when you need him?

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I loves the data. Thanks! :)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Phillips said...

One day some teacher is going to make a comment about "throwing the book at someone" to which some 16 yr old will respond, "Dude, like, what is a book?" The world will end in that moment, whether it continues or not.

Also the word verification is "corkings." I don't know why it is funny, but I'm pretty sure it might be.

Eric J. Krause said...

Yeah, that data makes sense to me. In years past, I was in the sect that said you'd have to pry my paper books out of my cold, dead hands. But I bought a Sony Reader this year, and there's no looking back for me. I love reading ebooks! They are, in my humble lil' opinion, so much easier and more convenient to read than paper books.

Norma Beishir said...

I knew it was coming!

Come on, you holdouts! Admit it--an e-book on your Android phone is easier to carry around than a hardcover, especially if you're reading Dan Brown.

Personally, I love audio downloads, too. I can put 3-4 books on my tiny iPod Shuffle and enjoy a book while I take a walk.

Livia said...

And the rate of change is increasing...

Livia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikole Hahn said...

Nothing against ebooks. One day I may have a kindle or Sony Reader. It's still not my favorite way to read. I like holding the book, dog-earring it, highlighting if it's an especially interesting non-fiction, and sitting in my warm, comfy chair with a cup of tea next to me in my livingroom.

I just can't imagine an reading an ebook in the bathtub. No matter how careful I am a drop or two always manages to stain the pages.

I also don't think that paper or hard bound will ever go out of style. Ebooks are just another way to read.

Laurie said...

You'll have to pry my books from my cold, dead hands.

L.C. Gant said...

Hmm. I wonder if oral storytellers had this same reaction when the printing press was first invented.

Me personally, I'm a pragmatist. I go with the technology. I'm still buying paper books at the moment, but as soon as e-readers get cool-looking and cheap enough, I'm on the bandwagon with no shame.

Kristin Laughtin said...

@Chris Phillips: Books will still exist. They will just be in different formats. And sadly, there are probably already 16-year-olds who would say that.

That said, I don't think physical books are likely to disappear any time soon. I work in a library, and even with the trend toward going e-only, we still buy a huge amount of physical books and work in consortia to keep at least one physical copy of any title in the system for back-up purposes. Considering the cost of e-readers (which are coming down, at least), there will still be many who can only afford to buy or borrow paper for quite a time to come.

Mira said...

It's Thursday, and there's a new post from Nathan!! Yay!

That makes me so happy. It's not that I don't want you to take care of yourself, Nathan, I really do - it's just everything together. You Know. So, it's very lovely to have an unexpected Nathan post! Yay!

So, I don't really have much to add to the actual post, except the results are very interesting! I'd expect the trend to continue, just because e-books are so much more accessible and convienent, on so many levels. I think you've said before, Nathan, that efficiency tends to win out, and I think that's very true.

Doug Pardee said...

Nikole, one of the great features of an e-reader is that it's easier to deal with in the bathtub. Just stick it in a Ziploc. Turning pages is no problem.

You can do all of the other things with an e-book, too. You hold the reader, you can bookmark pages, you can highlight passages, and you certainly can read it in your warm, comfy chair with your cup of tea.

Verification word: turcroci - a pet food made from turkey and crocodile meat.

Nicole said...

Nathan,

I think this poll helped me realize something. There's a huge difference between what I WILL do and what I PREFER to do.

I WILL read books in any format, anywhere, at any time. If I see a story on an e-reader, my computer, my phone, finger-painted in wet concrete or projected onto the moon - I'll read it. The great thing about e-books is that they give more people more options like this.

However, I PREFER to do my reading with paper books. If I happen to read a brilliant story on my computer at work (while, um, working), I'll still buy the print version - probably at 5:01 p.m. If my favorite author is releasing a new book, I wouldn't waste my time purchasing an e-book because I know that's not my preference. I go right to the hardcover. And that's why I remain in the "cold dead hands" crowd.

But, what's really amazing is that the industry has (finally) moved to a place where it can cater to both (or all!) types of readers!

Lynne said...

First I wondered . . . is the poll skewed b/c so many of your blog followers (like me) are at least somewhat techie, and have more igadgets than anyone needs?

Then I realized it doesn't matter. E-books are only going to grow in popularity; ditto for the devices to download & read them on. The convenience factor alone is wicked cool.

And with the explosion of e-books, the opportunity for new authors to publish electronically has never been greater. You can't go a day on the blogsphere without finding a post somewhere about the merits of self-publishing in the hot e-book market. I'm still going the traditional publishing route, but I'm curious: are e-books vetted like those through traditional publishing channels? I think the answer is -- it varies. As does the stigma of self-publishing, electronic or otherwise. And regardless of how you publish your book, you've still got to get people to read it, or more to the point of your post, buy it. And I don't know whether e-readers will pay to download self-published novels.

Sorry for the digression. The query process exacts quite a toll...

Fun post, Nathan. Oh, and my answer is maybe. I still love the feeling of curling up with a paper book.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Interesting stats!

Kristin's comment that in her library the trend is going towards e-only makes me sad. The library keeps a print copy for backup purposes? That's just sad. And the main reason people don't have e-readers is that they're too expensive? That doesn't apply to me. The main reason I don't have an e-reader is that my husband knows that if he bought me one, I'd burn it.

It is nice that the publishing industry is able to cater to all tastes with both print and e-books. But to assume that eventually, when e-readers are cheap enough for everyone, we will all welcome them, is a little presumptuous.

Sommer Leigh said...

I personally don't need to jump to the e-reader yet...but I anticipate a Kindle purchase in 2011. It's just...I like both. Why can't the world have both? Print books aren't going away, not so long as many consumers and schools can't afford e-readers. My husband's high school isn't going to buy him 90 e-readers so his students can read Twisted or Lord of the Flies. I say, the more ways people have to read, the better. It's not like the value of the content changes with the vehicle of delivery.

I say it is time for paper traditionalists and the digital vanguard to set their differences aside and agree there are enough words in the world for everyone.

And if they can't, I call for a knock down, drag out cage match. Winner take all.

D.G. Hudson said...

Interesting, but not surprising. The more affordable the readers become, the more people who will jump on the e-bandwagon.

@Rick Daley - Bob D. sure knew his stuff, and continues to impress on his Theme Time Radio Show on XM/Sirius satellite radio. The voice is now more gravelly, like most blues singers.

@ INK (Bryan) - yeah, where is that Che (or his modern equivalent) when you need him?

I'd like to see these trends split by demographics, so we could see where the push comes from.

Lila Swann said...

Interesting percentages...

As the proud owner of a Nook, I fully welcome the onslaught of new technologies for reading. For me, it made sense - I'm heading to college next year, and I simply can't bring my entire stock of real books with me. I just love the idea that I can carry around hundreds and hundreds of books in one tiny, pretty device that barely takes up any room in my purse.

The only downside, to me, is the price differential. I'm fairly certain that eBooks are damaging the publishing industry, right? (Not really sure, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)

If this is the case, why don't publishers raise the eBook prices? I would imagine that even if you deducted the cost of the paper, ink, binding, and labor that goes into actually making a print book, you could still incorporate the slice of money that goes to the publishers.

Just a thought!

Brenda said...

You'll have to pry my Kindle from my cold, dead hands.

swampfox said...

Clearly, paper is on the way out. Brick and mortar will be next.

Maureen Gill said...

I was totally opposed to ebooks; I sneered, scoffed, sniffed, and snarled. Then... Oh then... wow, pow, Bam! I've never become so enamored of any gadget, ever. First of all, my carpal tunnel irritates me when I hold the weight of a book for anytime and the Kindle is featherweight in comparison. I like to read in bed or on the couch and holding a paperback (forget hardcover) so I can read it comfortably soon becomes agony... then there's the problem about broken spines, smeared print, torn covers (yes,I'm rough on books) -- not to mention toting them everywhere (I usually take 3 or 4 books on trips, always have a book in my briefcase, tote or purse, and it gets kinda' old). There's the additional beauty of an immediate download. I live 40 mins from the nearest good bookstore and now I can lay in bed and get a book at midnight in about a minute. And the New York Times and even email... (I'm told; I haven't tried the email yet). I mean, honest to God, what's not to like? And I can change the print and a good Kindle cover has a fabulous little reading light that replaces those huge clunky things I had to clip on my books when I read in bed (and the book, unless it was a monster itself, could never bear the weight of the light anyway). So, yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes: I am now totally hooked. Do I love print? Sure. There's a place for print books and always will be but from now on I'm buying books I want to keep forever and not shelling out $10 (minimum) for a paperback that leaves me unimpressed (I'm still seething about the $20+ I dropped on big name authors this summer; their latest works were a joke). I can read great books for free and well under $10 (and save gas and time!) and it's very easy to preview a book w/o drinking 5 gals of coffee in a bookstore. My Kindle is my new best friend. Believe it. You'd have to pry it out of my cold dead hands to take it away from me!

M.J.B. said...

I second Maureen's comment! And there is nothing quite so magical as holding AN ENTIRE LIBRARY of books in your hand at one time! Except for maybe having all seven HARRY POTTER books in e-form...

kdrausin said...

Interesting data.

FYI-There's a free webinar: Childrens Publishing in the Digital Age-Tues. Dec.7th 1pm.-2pm.EST. By Digital Book World and Publishers Weekly

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

That's quite a shift and in such a short time. I'd like to hope actual, hard-copy books will always be around for the die-hards (me included).

Anonymous said...

I LOVE my nook. (And it seems like the redheaded stepchild of the ereading devices. People are always Sony this and Kindle that. I'm tellin' you, Nook is where it's at.) Since I got it, I haven't read a paper book. I've got a stack of them that I bought at the same; they're sitting untouched time sitting on the bedside table. I didn't think I'd love it so much.

I'm a little concerned about this "color" trend for ereaders though. The whole point in a dedicated device is that the e-ink display isn't backlit and doesn't flicker, so it's comfortable for reading. Once you add an LCD and wifi, what you've got is a tablet you're calling an ereader. Not that I've got anything against tablets, but lets be honest about what the device is. If I wanted to read on an LCD, I'd read on my netbook or my smartphone.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I guess I'm old school (sadly at 44). I love to curl up in bed or on the couch with a book and a blanket. I can't imagine snuggling up with a mini computer. I read manuscripts on my laptop and I carry it around with me everywhere, but when comes time to read for pleasure give me paper!

ElizaJane said...

I'll say it again: I just cannot stand to be limited to one page at a time the way a reader makes you read. I like to jump around, back and forth, bottom of page and top; to see how far I have come and how far I have to go. I read very, very fast, sometimes skimming, sometimes rereading. Real, paper books offer this kind of flexibility, so that the reader can take charge of their reading experience. Anything else is bizarrely controlling--I mean, in the age of interactive media, how can you all stand the limitations of an electronic reader? They're awful!

I have an i-pad and I swear I will NEVER use it to read a book! It is good only for reading political blogs and checking traffic conditions--ie., for gathering information. But a book, a real thing, is not just about information or even about pleasure. It's something more important than that.

OK, now I'll stop raving.

Anonymous said...

Extremely unscientific poll. Now that you're in the tech field, you've probably lost some writers but gained some tech people as followers on your Blog.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Which is why I was at pains yesterday to say it was unscientific.

Becca C. said...

It's not true that only the older generations are sticking to paper books. I'm 19 and I'm paper till the day I die. Don't be age-ist, people.

Hanny said...

Unbelievable! :) I would have thought that old-timey analog books would be the last relic of the pre-technological revolution. Everything is changing, isn't it? An exciting time in which to live!
Still, I choose both. No e-reader could ever take the place of my books. The feel, the smell, the character. But I wouldn't want to travel with my personal library.

Eden said...

I've always voted "cold, dead hands," and I did so on this poll, in spite of the fact that I got a Nook about a month ago. Honestly, if you're someone who travels much AND reads quickly, an e-reader is invaluable. The tipping point for me was packing for a two-week trip to Hawaii and facing the prospect of having to lug 5+ books in my bag. I went out the day before I was supposed to leave and picked up a Nook. My carry-on was light, and I was still able to blaze through five or so books on the trip, with lots of options. Even if I never use the Nook when I'm not traveling, I think it's worth it.

But I have yet to buy an e-book, having rented those I read on the trip from the library. I can't imagine ever paying for an e-book, much less buying most of my books in e-form.

Brooklyn Ann said...

I love how one of the main reasons we "paper" lovers stick to print books is the SMELL. Likely someone will have an "olfactory app" for that someday.

That aside, I am happy that the world has broadened to make books available in alternate forms, but if e-books replace print completely, it may kill me.

Elie said...

It's cold dead hands for me, I read like ElizaJane. I would have an e reader as a back up if I had some spare money though.
Btw, when I clicked through to vote the poll wasn't there.

J.C. Martin said...

What an interesting trend! I'm one of those old fuddy-duddies that find reading lots of words on a screen a bit of a strain on the eyes. I still prefer my books in print form, snack stains, dog ears, ticket-stub bookmarks and all!

RobynBradley said...

The tipping point is near (prediction of an actual date: December 25, 2010). :)

Hailee said...

NOOO! Book Readers, we CANNOT let this happen!

Nathan, I missed your poll because it wouldn't accept it every time I tried to enter it. Refreshing the page over and over can only do so much.

I am a book purist and I will always be one. End of story. If you take away my beautiful, tangible books with its beautiful tangible pages and if you take away my new-book smell, I will start an uprising if nobody else will. The end.

(I have strong feelings against e-books and Kindles.)

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