From The Digital Reader:
Back before Christmas the Harvard Business Review published an article on recent research that showed that people valued physical objects for the act of possession more than for the use of said object.
Participants valued a physical copy of The Empire Strikes Back more than a digital copy, for instance, only if they considered the Star Wars series to be films with which they strongly identified. Participants who weren’t Star Wars fans valued physical and digital copies similarly.
This is essentially a nonfunctional element of ownership – valuing something just for having it rather than what you can do with it.
Aside from price, that is the only thing keeping people buying print books over ebooks, which makes it all the more amazing when digital copies supplant physical copies in the marketplace as consumers choose to make the switch.
. . . .
This in part explains why the collectibles market has waves where old toys suddenly become desirable and valuable, only to lose much of that value a decade later; it’s because the buyers for any particular wave are all of an age group that wants to recapture a memory from their childhood, so they all suddenly want to buy the same toy.
. . . .
There’s also something this research doesn’t quite get at but is worth mentioning here, and that is the impact on print book sales versus digital.
All the industry trade press is trying to convince us that ebook sales have plateaued, and that the market is stable. This research, on the other hand. shows that there is little keeping people buying print books other than the artificially inflated price of ebooks from legacy publishers.
Link to the rest at The Digital Reader
For books he plans to read, PG values the ebook more than the printed book. The ebook is lighter, easier to tote (especially for the large books PG tends to read) and always opens to the last page PG read, among other things.
Part of PG’s preference is because, despite having donated many trunkloads of books to the library, the basement at Casa PG is still jammed with bookshelves that are six feet tall and three feet wide that are jammed with books. At this point, PG is leaning towards just passing this heavy burden on to the next generation for a bookish estate sale.
In Publishers Weekly and similar publications, PG is always surprised that publishing insiders are touting the news that ebook sales have plateaued. Surely publishers are familiar with what happens to sales when they lower prices on their own ebooks.
If publishers would talk to authors who have gone indie, switching away from traditional publishing, they would quickly learn that in unit sales, most of those authors are selling substantially more books than the publisher did.
PG did a quick Google search and discovered trade articles announcing that ebook sales had plateaued in each of the following years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
On the other hand, Penguin Random House issued a News for Authors article way back in 2013 titled “Who Reads Ebooks?” Here are a couple of excerpts from that article:
Over a fifth of American adults have read an eBook. EBook consumers are likely to be book enthusiasts who read across digital and print formats. Most eBook consumers are women, are younger than forty-five, have college degrees or have had some college education, and have upscale incomes. EBook consumers are over 20 percent more likely to have household incomes over $100,000 per year than non-eBook consumers. Preferred genres include mystery/suspense/detective fiction, general fiction, and romance.
EBook consumers stand out in a number of ways from non-eBook consumers. EBook consumers are 2.5 times more likely to own a tablet than non-eBook consumers. They also tend to be more accessible than non-eBook consumers across online touch points, and more sensitive to word-of-mouth recommendations. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, Internet-savvy owners of eReading devices, when compared to the general population, are more likely to get recommendations from online bookstores or other websites (56 percent versus 34 percent for the general reading population). When compared to all Americans ages sixteen and up, they tend to rely more heavily on word-of-mouth (81 percent versus 64 percent for all Americans ages 16+) and bookstore staff (31 percent versus 23 percent for Americans ages 16+) for book recommendations.
Link to the rest at Penguin Random House
Additionally, if Amazon is the biggest bookstore in the world and if Amazon announced that its ebook unit sales exceeded its print book unit sales in January, 2011, what might that tell you about plateaus?
And what about the statistics that demonstrate only 35% of school librarians indicated they were acquiring digital content in 2010—but by 2015, that number had increased to 69%.
Of course, Author Earnings is the only reliable outside look at ebook sales by all types of pubishers, including indie authors, on Amazon. AE’s studies show:
- there is growth in ebook sales and
- a large part of that growth is from sales by indie authors, which sales aren’t tracked by any of the data sources in the traditional book business.