Will you ever buy mostly e-books? (12th annual poll)

by | Dec 3, 2018 | Business of Publishing, E-books | 9 comments

Here we are again, with my annual poll about our future e-book habits. If this poll were a child, it would be in middle school.

Before I get to the poll, my usual caveats:

  • Yes, I understand this isn’t a scientific poll
  • Yes, it’s further unscientific-like to compare between years when my blog readership may have changed
  • Yes, I know you want more poll options because no option here precisely captures your view. Choose the one that’s closest.

Here’s the poll. You may need to click here to see it if you’re reading in a feed reader or via email.

So. What say you?


  1. Michael W. Perry

    I tried ebooks and backed away for most purchases. Shopping carefully, I can usually get a hardback version for less than the ebook version. I don’t like ebooks because they feel far less substantial.

    Perhaps the only reason I’d take ebooks seriously is if the readers offered a note-taking ability as clever as that of the LiquidText app. Here’s what Apple’s editors had to say about it.

    “If your job or studies involve reading through longer works, LiquidText offers the kind of flexibility you’ve always wished for. Using gestures, you can quickly drag excerpts to a workspace on the side, make notes and comments, or compress pages to compare distant sections. With support for popular file formats, sharing options, and cloud services, it’s so intuitive to use that you’ll forget how you ever read without it.”

    It’s marvelous clever and easy to use, but can’t work around current copy protection schemes.

  2. Sharon Pratt

    I dislike ebooks as I can’t navigate in them as easily as with a paper book in hand. I’m able to feel where a character was introduced or a significant scene described, but only with paper.

    I consider myself a writer though as yet unpublished. My view may be different from that of folks who are only readers.

    A close friend who is self-published tells me that the huge majority of her books are sold via ebook. She generates only a small percentage of paper books.

    I don’t have the skills to analyze her comment as many factors are in play, and she’s only one stat. But it’s interesting perhaps that those of us who write, and I’d guess a substantial number of your followers are in this category, prefer paper books. Perhaps readers really like ebooks.

  3. Sherelle Winters

    My answer is the same as every year, can pry my physical books out of my cold dead hands 😀

    I buy maybe 5-10 ebooks a year, 100 or so physical. Why?

    * I prefer the experience of reading print and for me, and no, matter how much people extol the virtues of the paperwhite and other high end ebook readers, it is just not the same

    * I work in the tech industry, I’m on a computer, tablet, or phone screen 70+ hours a week, easily. Reading for me is a much needed break mentally and visually from devices!

    * I don’t want to buy yet another device to read on even if it did mimic it; I have an iPad to read on and I don’t want a one-trick pony device like an ebook reader typically will be

    * I’m possessive by nature and I want to actually OWN my books – Amazon folds, despite the resulting apocalypse no one is coming to my house to reclaim every book I bought from them, while ebooks can be deleted just like that (and yes, there are tools to make personal copies and all that, but that’s a lot of extra overhead versus just taking it home).

    * the majority of what I enjoy reading is either not available in e-book form due to age or genre, or in the case of genres like manga and graphic novels just plain suck in e-book form. Very hard to read for me, even though technically the screen is bigger – the art just looks off.

    * Cost: the majority of the books I buy are still cheaper in print than they are in ebook, partially from buying used or on sales (which print gets more sales than ebook from my unscientific analysis) and indie authors are primarily the ones pricing ebooks at half to a third the cost of print, and I don’t read many indies (I know, I’m a bad indie LOL)

    That said, when the price is okay, I do buy more newer non-fiction ebooks than print books because I do buy more indie ones and they tend to be one-and-done reads (as in I read once, then delete from the device) or something I want to quickly search versus flipping through an index, while all of my physical fiction books I reread regularly

  4. Charlotte

    I have a more nuanced answer for this. Technically, I buy more e-books than physical books, because I tend to snag them when they are heavily discounted at a buck or so a pop. But I read way more physical books than I do e-books, and much prefer physical books to e-books. I’m just on a tight budget, so if I have to choose between buying a hardback of that great new fiction read at $25.99, or getting it as an ebook for $2.99, I’m going to get the e-book. (Although, if it’s available at the library and doesn’t have a ridiculous wait list, I will check it out instead.) I still collect physical books, and have no plans on stopping.


    What are these ‘e-books’ you speak of?

  6. Laura

    I buy ebooks on a regular basis, but I want a paperback copy of my own many times so that I can make notations in the book and analyze scenes.

  7. Nicole E Montgomery

    I haven’t bought a print novel since sometime in 2011, and, barring the (insert preference) apocalypse, I never will again. Since I read upwards of two-hundred novels a year, plus ten or so non-fiction books, that’s a lot of ebooks. The single thing I don’t like about them is I can’t easily loan them to others, at least not consistently.

    The only kind of books I will still buy in print is certain types of reference and workbooks–and only after trying them out in E-format first, to be sure it’s a worthwhile purpose.

    To each their own, but the ease and convenience of ebooks for me makes them such a clear winner, I’m actually surprised when I see people (like, oddly, my teenager), reading a print book.

    • Nicole E Montgomery

      Replying to my own comment here. Saw a typo: the last word of the second to last paragraph should be purchase, not purpose. Also, on the interesting idea (and that would be super interesting research), that people who are also writers tend to prefer print, I have to be the opposite example. And, although completely anecdotal, in my 25-member writer’s group, we all read e-books, about half exclusively so. 🙂

  8. Alicia Richardson

    I don’t buy print books unless it is a reference book that I need and print is the only option (or perhaps a cookbook). I have my Kindle read to me while I’m doing other things, like folding laundry, tidying up, or waiting in carpool line. I can get through a lot of books that way, versus almost none if I had to sit and read.


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