I can’t help but noticing that the ratio of my book sales in the last twelve months has turned decidedly towards e-books. Looking back at my last year, sales have gone from 90% paperback last April to the exact opposite for April 2011. 90% e-book sales.

This is a very sudden change, which as an author, presents a whole new range of approaches necessary for marketing my books. In many respects it actually makes marketing easier, as e-books are in essence an extension of the Internet, so it makes sense to use the Internet and social media to promote the titles.

Where it gets a bit tricky is in preparing a book for publication. In the past my focus has been on getting a ‘book’ to market and as such, elements like typography, pagination, back cover and paper quality were the first items on the list of things to get right. Once the ‘book’ was published, an e-book version was some kind of afterthought. Just a quick re-format and bingo, an ebook.

However now, with the rapid move in the book market towards e-books, getting the formatting of an e-book spot on is an entirely different skill set. In my own experience I can tell you it takes me longer to get a book approved for publication and distribution on Smashwords than it does to get a paperback to market.

So where is the book going? Will our libraries and bookshops simply become e-terminals? Perhaps paperless and peopleless?

If you are an author or a reader, what do you think the future holds for the book?


Are We Becoming Bookless?

28 thoughts on “Are We Becoming Bookless?

  • 05/05/2011 at 4:02 pm

    I'm curious about this as well…it may end with my generation. Personally – I love cracking the spine on a new book and curling up on the couch. I especially like the silence breaking sound of turning the page…it just adds to the experience.

    I'm at a computer a lot for work, writing/editing etc. I still prefer the hard copy – but I have read a book or two online. So I wonder if the children of my generation will be the last to remember books not in virtual form.

    Great Post!!!

  • 05/05/2011 at 4:09 pm

    I'm definitely a spine cracker too Kim! Thanks for your comment.

  • 05/05/2011 at 5:20 pm

    The soothing click of the Kindle buttons has replaced the sound of pages turning in my house. I still love to curl up on the sofa with a good book — now that book is in an e-format. I understand the appeal of actual books; I like their feel and their smell. However, I prefer my Kindle because I can have a selection of literature at my fingertips without having to buy another bookshelf!

    I don't think books will ever disappear completely. I'm not throwing out my collection, and I've yet to see anyone else do that either. However, if you are a voracious reader, buying a Kindle or other e-reading device soon becomes a matter of economics when you consider how much money and space it can save you.

  • 05/05/2011 at 5:39 pm

    I must admit I hadn't considered the bookshelf angle Susan. I'd save a huge amount of space in my living room !

  • 05/05/2011 at 6:51 pm

    I like both types, real and Ebook.

    The one thing an Ereader has over my book shelves is plenty of space, plus I can increase the font size for ease of reading. The other thing about Ebook's that I like is the simple one click buy and within a minute or to I'm reading.

    Whether we will see the demise of traditionally printed books I simply don't know. Personally I believe the market can stand both.

    There is something aesthetically pleasing in seeing your personal library sitting there on the shelves of your book case though. :)

  • 05/05/2011 at 6:59 pm

    My husband and I now both have ebook readers, but the reason is for the ease of travelling they will never replace real books for us. As an ex librarian I dread the thought of paperless and peopless bookshops or libraries. I have also found that many authors for obvious reasons prefer to send ebooks for review. the downside of this is for me not being able to set them travelling once read via sites such as Bookcrossing and Bookmooch.

  • 05/05/2011 at 7:20 pm

    I'm banned from buying more books for the house… my bookshelves are piled two high and two deep, and I've taken over a blanket chest in the hallway, *plus* I have boxes of books in the attic. OH therefore gave me a Kindle for Christmas. I've over 170 books on it, so far, and wow is it a nifty gadget! My favourite feature is the sample chapter before you can buy – I think at the moment I have *cough* over 60 sample chapters stored ready for me to investigate their delights.

    From a tactile point of view, books win over Kindle. From actually holding one… Kindle wins, every time. No more awkwardly shaped enormous softbacks which hurt my hands to hold. It's a relief, in some senses.

    Having said that, as with Susan – I'm not getting rid of any of my physical books!

  • 05/05/2011 at 8:35 pm

    After all you thought provoking comments, I've decided to stay with my real books, smells and spine cracking. I just received the first copy of my latest book today and it sure does feel and smell beautiful!

    BUT, I've just ordered a Kindle for my wife! Figured it was cheaper than a new book case as all of her books are now overflowing. I should post some pics on my blog to prove my point. So we'll see if I can convert my wife to Kindle reading. If not? Well, there maybe a cheap Kindle on eBay in the weeks to come!

    • 20/07/2011 at 6:21 pm

      I suspect that some people had decided to stay with hardcopy books the day they became authors – perhaps some time before then; and maybe the authors of tomorrow (2024, or maybe 2034) won’t know what the heck we’re talking about.

      So, as long as we keep opening the next book I don’t think we will ever give up hardcopy. That’s a good thing.

      I only look forward to recieving a first copy of my first novel; and by the way congratulation Derek.

      However, on the bookcase thing – my bookcases are full and and books line the floor along the wall close by. At the rate I buy used books I’ll need more of those tall things with the long slots in them, so I guess that point won’t have to be proven, I know the feeling.

      It’s just that, not only do I love hardcopy books I also love the bookcases they go in. LOL.

  • 06/05/2011 at 12:44 am

    god, I hope not. I really, really dislike reading anything on gadgets. And I would be miserable, in the mornings especially, without a newspaper, magazine, or book of poetry to look over with my coffee. The Kindle is a nice accessory for travel and such, but will never replace the smell and feel of a book in my hand.

  • 06/05/2011 at 1:58 am

    I am equally torn between the two.

    Book – I can flip back to find another page without losing my place, and see both sections simultaneously. I like to study the book cover from time to time and contemplate the image and how it relates to the content inside. I can easily advertise what I'm reading to people around me. All things I can't do with an ereader.

    Ereader – very portable, books at my fingertips in a nanosecond, backlighting makes it SO easy to read at night in bed with the lights out while hubby is asleep.

    I love real books and being able to actually hold them in my hands. They're little jewels, each with a treasure inside the cover. I'll never let them go if I can help it.

    • 19/07/2011 at 1:49 am

      No one understands all of you like I do.

      However, in light of the subject, I am almost forced to remember the movie The Time Machine (the original version), when the protagonist is led to the library to get information about the past. The Information Rings were fine; a novel idea, however, the hard cover books were allowed to turn to dust.

      The analogy is startling: Our books today versus the old books allowed to turn to dust in the movie. Our eBooks and iPads, etc. of today; thus The Rings!

      My conclusion is – let’s not get so spoiled to modern technology that we allow to go by the wayside, precious masterpieces in book form, or allow some of the greatest movies ever made to linger in their cannisters only to rot and rust, never to be enjoyed again. Ever. And repeat the mistake of the Eloi.

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