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Ebooks have become a normal means of consuming content

1 November 2013

From The Book Industry Study Group:

BISG’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading, powered by Nielsen Book Research and now in its fourth and final year, reveals an emerging consensus around e-books and maturing consumption patterns, with important implications for trade publishers and content creators and distributors.

Now a normal means of consuming content and offering consumers a broad range of reading options, e-book growth has slowed and currently comprises about 30% of books sold.

. . . .

  • Consumers are very interested in “bundling” print and digital versions of a book, with 48% of survey respondents willing to pay more for bundles.
  • Just over half of survey respondents would pay more for an e-book if it could be given away or re-sold.
  • Consumers do not distinguish between e-books published by traditional houses and independently published options when making buying decisions.
  • While the numbers are relatively small, there is an increase in the number of people who buy print and digital versions of a book interchangeably and a slow decline in the number of people who exclusively buy e-books.

Len Vlahos, BISG Executive Director, said “Four years of consumer data shows clearly that e-book consumption has reached mainstream readers and has expanded well beyond early adopter ‘power readers,’ but that physical books remain a popular format for many consumers, especially in certain categories. This survey provides actionable information for companies across the industry to stay ahead of these trends.”

Jo Henry, Director of Nielsen Book Research, commented: “It is clear from four annual research surveys that e-books are in the later stages of the innovation curve and have settled into reasonably predictable consumption patterns. The likelihood of future growth will, in part, depend on improving the value perception of e-books among less committed users.”

Link to the rest at The Book Industry Study Group

Ebook/Ereader Growth, Uncategorized

11 Comments to “Ebooks have become a normal means of consuming content”

  1. Just a day or two ago, Amazon launched Matchbook, in which a person who buys a print book can get the Kindle version of that book at a reduced price. Even including a bunch of classics in the group, I was very startled to see that only 70,000 of the millions of books at Amazon were included in Matchbook (I’m in there). Is it perhaps that most self-pubbed authors haven’t offered a print version to begin with? I’m using it for promo as in “buy a print version to give as a Christmas gift and keep the e-version for yourself”.

    • I suspect that most self-published authors who have print books have enabled the feature, and most trade publishers have ignored it. The day it was announced, KDP slowed to a crawl, so I’m guessing that was due to everyone going there to enable it.

    • The traditional publishers I’ve talked with were all going to avoid matchbook. Which I really don’t understand because this seems like found money.

  2. I’ve learned to distrust this sort of analysis because I’ve so much imprecision of language, so I can’t help but wonder if, when they say, “a slow decline in the number of people who exclusively buy e-books” if they actually mean that the growth rate is slowing. I wish they’d been clearer.

    • I agree, it’s vague.

      Another problem is the measure being quoted. If you track the number of people over time who “exclusively buy ebooks”, then as soon as a person buys even one non-ebook, he or she is no longer a member of that category. So, that category is almost bound to shrink over time. It makes it look like ebook adoption is slowing, even if those people are buying 10 ebooks for every physical book.

      In my experience, that sort of measure is often used to obfuscate, rather than clarify.

      If you want to buy the report, it will only set you back about a thousand bucks.

    • Well, I don’t *exclusively* buy ebooks, I just mostly buy ebooks, as you say. I personally prefer ebook for fiction and DTB for reference.

    • Edit:

      Without knowing more about the research, I bet I can tell where this number comes from. You ask 1000 people the question, “Do you buy only paper, only digital, or a mix of the two?” Then you compare this number to the responses of a year ago.

      Now, it’s natural that a lot more people have adopted digital. These aren’t the people who are tech nerds, though. They just do whatever is most convenient. This means that the pool of people who answer the question has been “diluted” by people who are now adopting digital content.

      I think that for a while, we’ll see almost everyone sliding over into the “both formats” category from the “paper only” category, and as paper formats are phased out, people will slide over to the “mostly/all digital” category.

  3. and a slow decline in the number of people who exclusively buy e-books.

    I would much rather buy a ebook but when Penguin offers the paperback version for 1.20 less, and I get free shipping, guess which one I buy? I dislike what I see as them propping up there paperback line at the expense of ebooks but for 1.20 and the amount of books I buy I can’t pass it up.

  4. I would also consider the source when reacting to this data.

    • Agreed. This is just this side of worthless. And even if it weren’t, what actions would it inspire anyone to take?

      I remember when the broadcast networks released study after study indicating how much share cable would claim, quite often indicating that demand had leveled off. Same stuff, different industry.

  5. It’s BISG. I’m surprised anyone still listens to them. Or Bowker. All their data = incomplete.

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