eBooks Outsell Hardcovers For The First Time In The U.S.
Digital publishing is a wholly magical thing in its own way. It allows us to read dirty books on the train without getting stares. It lets us carry forty books to the beach without a wheelbarrow. And self-publishing, in particular, allows plenty of talented authors an opportunity to get their work in front of more people.
That's why I'm going to do my best not to sound all "you kids get off my lawn" about this despite my inherent biases toward all things analog. I go to tech conferences (I have an online startup) and use the glow of the laptops surrounding me to illuminate my spiral notebook enough to jot notes with a pen. If you call me when I'm at home, odds are I'm talking to you via a retro telephone handset connected to my iPhone. I wear a wrist watch. And I have never read any book in digital format if it is also available in dead-tree format. It's not that I'm old, just that I'm old-school.
Now that you know where I'm coming from, you don't even have to guess how I reacted to the American Association of Publishers' latest report indicating that adult eBooks outpaced adult hardcovers in sales for the first time ever, $282.3M to $229.6M, in the first quarter of 2012. It sort of made me want to go chop down an old-growth forest then stand on the stumps screaming, "Long live paper!" That urge has not completely faded.
The good thing about the numbers, no matter which side of the digital divide you stand on, is that both categories saw an increase from last year—up 28.1% for eBooks and 2.7% for hardcovers. Adult paperbacks had the highest sales overall, even above eBooks, at $299.8M but are actually down 10.5%, which means that if things continue as they are, eBooks are winning this race by the end of the year.
Do you prefer eBooks or hardcovers? Is this a major milestone in publishing or just inevitable evolution? What are bookstores and libraries going to look like in ten years—heck, even five years? So many questions. What say you?
Image via Why Not eBooks?
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