Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The death of the book is e-fiction

Business Spectator -  - 30 Jan 2013

One thing the digital revolution has not done is kill off the book. In fact, I think we can conclude now that, if anything, it is leading to the book’s rebirth.
E-reader and tablet sales are booming, with another big Christmas for them just past, and it looks like e-books now take about 10 per cent of total book sales, rising fast.
I used to think that digital publishing would at least end up redefining what a book is, since the number of words was determined by the optimal size of the printed object, both for pricing and for the shelf, but that’s not happening either – yet.
Well actually, sales of short novels and summaries at a price point around $3 each are doing well and there was a lot of talk at the Digital Book World conference earlier this month about the need to slice books up into smaller parcels for better indexing by Google.
But on the whole a book is still a book, and it looks like the decline in reading has been halted and turned around by the advent of digital publishing. It’s just that more and more are being read on small screens – tablets and e-readers rather than paper.
It’s not good news in the long-term for bookshops, of course, but sales of printed books are still doing okay, and the best bookshops are surviving doing other things. 
Amazon released the first Kindle e-reader in November 2007, just as the global stock market peaked and the credit crisis began. Five years on, from ad hoc discussions with those in the industry, we can start to form some conclusions about what’s happening.
Fiction is moving to e-book more quickly than non-fiction, especially romance and crime; in fact sales of romance novels have dramatically increased. The biggest market for e-books is women over 45 and whereas the split between female and male print book consumers is 60-40, in digital form it’s 70-30.
This stands to reason by the way: I tend to buy crime fiction on my tablet and serious non-fiction in print, although that may change in future.

Full article 

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