I came across this infographic from Daily Infographic while browsing Pinterest. (see below) It got me thinking… I’ve seen several reports recently about growth slowing for ebook sales. I certainly don’t see paper books disappearing any time soon, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see mass market books largely disappear, to be replaced by trade paperbacks (in print) and ebooks (at prices rivaling current mass-market prices.) In fact, I think the latter may already be happening, judging by the number of older books I’ve seen being re-released as trade paperbacks instead of the less-expensive mass-market format.
I’ve spoken or corresponded with people who are delighted to replace much of their print collection with ebooks, or who have stopped buying print books almost entirely. I also know plenty of people who eschew or even disdain ebooks, and will only read print books. But most of the readers of my acquaintance fall into a middle ground: we still love our print books, but these days, we’re doing at least some if not the majority of our reading on various e-devices. My question is, why? What is impelling a lot of us to read more ebooks?
In my case, there are three main reasons I’ve moved more and more to ebooks. First is portability. I got my first e-reader in preparation for a 3-week road trip to Canada in 2010. I couldn’t afford space for a lot of paper books so an e-reader seemed like a space-saving alternative — and besides, it was cool. I bought a Sony PRS-505, loaded it up with freebies (mostly classics) and a few purchased books, and spent the trip happily re-reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series, several other classics, and the few books I had bought. (The only inconvenience was prying the e-reader out of my daughter’s hands; she hadn’t brought enough books for her own reading habit.) I still love e-readers for portability. The idea that I can take hundreds of books with me on vacation fills me with satisfaction, because I know I won’t run out of things to read.
The second reason is price. I honestly didn’t think I’d be buying as many books as I have. I wrote several posts a few years back in which I railed about ebook prices. To be honest, I still think pricing ebooks equivalent to mass market or trade paperbacks is a bit much, since the consumer doesn’t have the right to resell or give away the product when they’re done with it. But the thing is, there are so many promotions and freebies out there: not only self-published books (which, face it, can vary from excellent to OMG-why-am-I-wasting-my-time) but new and backlist books by established authors I trust. The bargain prices are low enough that I don’t mind paying again for an old favorite I already own in print, or buying a book I know will lose if and when I switch formats. (For the record: I did switch ebook formats this winter, when Santa brought me a Kindle Paperwhite. My Sony reader still works, albeit slowly, so I don’t have to give up my ePub library just yet. There are ways to strip the DRM and convert the files to mobi so Kindle can read them, but they’re technically illegal.)
All that is not to say that I haven’t bought some ebooks at “full” price; I have. But I’ve bought a lot more at bargain prices… and as a result, I’ve spent more money overall on books than I planned to each year, and my e-library has grown by leaps and bounds.
The third reason I’m reading so many ebooks these days? NetGalley (don’t laugh!) As a blogger, I am able to request electronic review copies from NetGalley and Edelweiss. And like many bloggers, when I discovered this, I went to town, requesting lots of books because I didn’t think I’d get approval for most of them. Turns out I get approved more often than not, so I ended up with a LOT of review copies to read. My reading these days is split between review copies, most of them ebooks, and books I choose to read, with the bulk of my reading time spent on the former. In fact, I’m pulling back on NetGalley requests this year so I have time to get to some of my very extensive TBR list.
So tell me: Are you reading more ebooks these days? If so, why, and how do you feel about that? And where do you think the publishing industry is headed: Will print and ebooks coexist, as the infographic suggests? Or are we kidding ourselves, and we’re really seeing the beginning of the end for print books?