Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, November 25, 2013

Will You Ever Buy Mostly E-books? The Results!

Could it be that 25% of you really just won't buy mostly e-books ever?

With the caveat that these results are unscientific and the audience has varied from year to year, this marks the third consecutive time 25% of the poll responders said you can pry paper books out of their cold dead hands:

2007: 49%
2008: 45%
2009: 37%
2010: 30%
2011: 25%
2012: 25%
2013: 25%

On the other hand, some fence sitters have moved into the e-book column. The people who welcome their coming e-book overlords:

2007: 7% (!)
2008: 11%
2009: 19%
2010: 32%
2011: 47%
2012: 47%
2013: 49%

These numbers do seem to mirror overall trends. The AAP reports declining e-book sales this year, though as Mike Shatzkin notes these numbers do not take into account many of the e-books that are for sale on Amazon, which aren't reported publicly. Not many people are disputing that the rate of e-book growth is slowing, even as the share of e-book sales continues to rise.

What do you make of these results?


Shelley Souza said...

I think the real question is not, "will you ever buy only e-books?" but will you ever READ only e-books?". Because it's very easy to "buy" an e-book, but how many of those bought e-books are people actually reading; versus print books read by the same people who also buy e-books?

I buy lots of e-books but I hardly ever read them...books by well-known authors as well as new authors I want to support by at least "buying" their e-book. Because I still prefer to read a book in print. And frankly a huge number of e-book are not worth reading, even if I download them during a "free" offer, or buy them for 99cents or 2.99 to help out an author I know online.

Christi G said...

Although I occasionally but e-books, I'm still in the camp of print books. They don't need chargers and they're easy to borrow and lend. I also absolutely prefer print when I'm writing about a book for a blog post or etc. It's a hassle to find an unmarked passage on a Kindle, but it's easy to flip through a real book. I also feel that people who sell their e-books for super cheap are devaluing the publishing industry. I suppose time will tell what happens.

Lori Schafer said...

I'm definitely a holdout on the e-book conversion. On the other hand, with few thousand books I own now, I'm running out of shelf space, so I'm not going to rule it out entirely. And let's not kid ourselves - we're all getting older. Maybe one day I won't want to have to carry around a four-pound hardcover just so I can have something to read on the BART train :)

Kel Heinen said...

I'm pretty opposed to e-books. I'm a purist, I guess: I want the real thing and ONLY the real thing. I can't see reading on a screen. I get tired after looking at a computer for a few hours...I can't imagine an e-reader being the only way I read a book.

Everything that's wrong with an e-book (they're fragile, need charging, etc.) is what's good about real books: drop 'em, soak 'em, rip 'em, tear 'em (on accident, of course), no biggie. They don't need charging. You can read by just about any light. Print books all the way.

Anonymous said...

This poll is fairly accurate when you think about overall reading they stand right now. There are some who will never read a digital book. And that's not going to change. I don't think we can expect a full switch to digital until the next generation steps up. I think most people under a certain age don't even distinguish between e-books and print books anymore. I don't. A book is a book, digital or print.

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

Count me as a digital convert. I still have many shelves of print books, and I buy new ones when I know I can get them signed by the author, but I prefer reading on my Paperwhite (built-in front-light, read anywhere with no problem). When I do pick up a print book, I find it frustrating not to be able to change the font size. I like being able to highlight text and create as many bookmarks as I want. But the biggest advantage is the Paperwhite fits in my purse so I am never ever without a book.

Stacy McKitrick said...

This year's poll came out when I was without internet. I would have voted NEVER, although I do own an e-reader now (got it last year).

Even after reading several e-books, I still prefer paper. I can put a paper book down and not worry about it being stolen. Not so much with an e-reader.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I don't see print books going away. On my blog, I found that many people don't like e-books as much when I did a survey. I do read e-books but still prefer print books. Plus they are so much easier share and can be shared with so many more people. Unless e-book prices go down much more, I'd prefer to buy print books because I like to share them.

Christine Monson said...

I still dislike reading e-books. I buy them, read a couple pages, then switch to paper. I'm sorry but I don't believe someone would ONLY buy e-books even if they say they do and would.

daniel wieder said...

As a programmer just out of college I just gave away most of my dead tree collection and have mostly completed the transition to ebooks. It's the combination of instant book access (I'm a very, very fast reader), easy portability, and not wanting to transport my collection halfway across the country.

I still have many print books however I've limited myself to just the ones that I will want to keep, treasure, and reread for the foreseeable future. I've given anything that I probably won't read again to other friends who will appreciate them.

Joel Mayer said...

Science and math nerds reap enormous benefits from ebooks. Ebooks are live, they can contain animations illustrating all sorts of esoteric concepts in science and math.

Anonymous said...

Why print books are here to stay:

1. They don't need plugs and batteries.
2. They can be easily and freely shared with others.
3. Much easier to flip around through the pages.
4. Mainstream publishers are asking way too much $$ for ebooks. (Consumers aren't stupid. We want our due cut out of the savings on distribution and print costs.)
5. Cover art is always there to enjoy on the bedside table.

Anma Natsu said...

I am now and will always be in the 25% bracket. :-) Though I do have the Kindle app, I have actually purchased all of ONE eBook - which I only purchased because it was $3 with the paper copy which I bought as a gift. At that point I was like, "eh, significant enough savings." It's a non-fiction reference work, which is one that I do think is suited for eBook form because of often they are usually updated.

Computer books and textbooks and the the like I full support going the eBook route, if the prices come to down to match their digital nature.

Beyond, that, though, the only eBooks I really bother with are the freebies, and many of those I just download and never read. In most years, I read 200-300 books, of those maybe 6-12 are little freebie eBooks (most not even novel length).

I'm on a computer of some kind, laptop, desktop, or tablet, 90-100+ hours a week. When I want to relax, the last thing I want to do is stare at another screen when reading on paper gives my eyes a much needed digital rest.

It also helps that the bulk of what I enjoy reading isn't even available in eBook form, either from being too old, too niche, or being graphic heavy (though more and more graphic novel forms are going eBook as well).

Other Lisa said...

While I do read e-books, I still prefer reading in print. It feels more immersive to me, less like work and with fewer distractions. I like the e-reader for travel and bargain books that I may or may not read.

Vanessa said...

This is a tricky subject for me personally. One of the reasons I am a big fan of paper books is simple earlier this year my NookColor broke. Granted half the stories on there were free but I only bought ten books but makes me even sad is how I can't even read those books I purchased on any other device.

I frankly like paper books, if I drop it I can pick it back up and continue reading, and I love how when I take my book with me everywhere I go someone is curious as to what I'm reading and looks at the cover. Plus I hate how some ebooks cost more than paper prompting me to now have to compare prices on books I'm buying

I support all authors no matter how they are published just as long as they have put the book out as professionally as possible.

Karen Prince said...

I barely ever pick up a paperback anymore. I love that I can set the text on my Kindle to huge, make it brownish and have a cream background. Have just donated all paper novels, some, like Terry Pratchett hardback collection, I have been collecting since the 70s. (Living in Africa, not many people have eReaders.)

Self published on Amazon and am surprised to find the paperback outsells the eBook by about a third.

Loving the online revolution.

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