In July 2010, Amazon said that their sales of ebooks for their Kindle reader was higher than hardcover paper books sales. Just recently, in May 2011, Amazon has put out a press release that states ebook sales have now overtaken even paperback book sales, and are their best seller: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?ID=1565581&c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle
Is this the end of paper books? No, I don’t think so. When radio came in, books didn’t go away. When TV came in, books didn’t disappear, neither did radio. Some shifted their attention to the new media, but books never went away.
This new ebook publishing revolution is a very exciting time to be an author! Now, for the first time, the playing field of publishing is really leveling and most anyone can get their books to their audience.
I think of how radio and TV have changed and know there will be parallels with books. There are now DVD boxed sets of TV shows, TIVO, pay per view, and subscription channels in the TV realm. Radio has specialty networks like SIRUS, Internet radio stations are numerous (a lot of them are really great), and most on-air radio stations stream online.
So where is the book heading? It’s already there is a large way with ebooks, but more enhancements could come, like multimedia content in ebooks and social networks built into ebooks.
Paper books will never disappear, and overall, I believe they are still currently the top-selling format in the world. But, it looks like that balance is quickly shifting. I’ll be putting out paper editions of my books as well, as I love the paper format. From an author’s point of view though, publishing ebooks are my top priority and it’s a much more direct route to my audience that way. I think the audience appreciates the plusses of ebooks like lower cost, no storage space issues on full book cases, and instant delivery.
There are times when a visit to a bookstore is a lovely experience and one that I, and many others still enjoy, and will enjoy in the future. Ebooks are another option, not a replacement for paper books, or bookstores, even when ebooks do become the most popular format in a few years time. I encourage you to support the authors and bookstores you appreciate so that you can ensure they will thrive in the years to come, as the publishing industry goes through its growing pains.