Ebooks Outselling Paper Books – Pew Survey Shows Decline In Paper Book Use

According the results of a recent survey made by Pew, Americans are reading more ebooks now than ever before, particularly reading them on tablets of one sort or another.   This is not really surprising as the sales of tablets in the last few months have been huge.

Parallel with this is a steady increase in the sales of ebooks and borrowing of ebooks from libraries, and a slight increase in the average number of books (both ebook and paper book) that Americans read each year.

Basically what we seem to be seeing is a move away from paper books to their electronic cousins, which is also hardly surprising given the lower (generally) cost of ebooks, and the incredible ease of buying ebooks for most modern tablets and ereaders.

As you can see from the graph below tablet ownership in the USA has overtaken ereader ownership, which is scarcely surprising given the differences between the two types of devices.  Seems to me to be comparing lemons and oranges when looking at ebook use.  One (the tablet) is a truly multifunctional device, which in passing can be used for reading ebooks on, the other, the ereader is a device designed for one thing only, reading ebooks on.

Thus, to a degree, the two types of device will appeal to different people who have different requirements.

But the point to be taken from this survey is not the relative popularity of ereaders versus tablets, but the fact that Americans are buying both types of device in large numbers, and more importantly, Americans are beginning to read again, by whatever means, which is obviously a good development.


And who are these readers of ebooks?

This is also interesting, there is an absolute increase in reading across the board in the USA apparently, all socio-economic groups, in all areas have increased their reading (via ebooks on tablets or ereaders), as you can see from the following table.


Bad news for paper book publishers

However, what also became apparent from this survey, and others, the number of paper books that are sold in the USA has actually dropped, not by much, but nonetheless fewer people are buying paper books now than before in the USA, which indicates that publishers really have to come properly to terms with ebooks, and find sensible business models for selling them in such a way that their customers feel happy, rather than as at present where they treat their ebook customers as potential criminals.

This is also lousy news for owners of book shops, who as yet have failed to find a sensible way to fit in with the growth of ebooks, and sadly are steadily going out of business all over the world as more and more people turn to digital reading (on whatever platform).

What this survey suggests is that in the fullness of time, paper book publishing and reading will become a somewhat niche market, and that digital publishing will in a matter of a few years become the standard form of publishing for most books.   And whether or not one likes that prospect, I suspect it is what will happen.

Link to Pew Survey:  http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/12/27/e-book-reading-jumps-print-book-reading-declines/

Share with us:

What are your feelings about this obvious and unstoppable trend in book reading..   Is the day of the paper book really going to end in the next couple of years?

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