The Realities of the E-Book Revolution

(NOTE:  I wrote this post a year ago.  Since it was first posted, ebooks have continued to increase market share and traditional publishers have continued their struggle for survival.   Now, more than ever, it’s time for authors to consider their options carefully before taking the traditional route to publication! – RDM 7-9-12)

BY ROBERT DAVID MACNEIL – On a recent flight out of DFW, I picked up a PC Today magazine and read an amazing statistic.  The magazine reported that 12% of the adults in the US now own an e-reader.  (Pew Internet Project’s May, 2011 survey)

I found that statistic impressive, but as I read further, I discovered three additional factors that make it nothing less than earthshaking…

FACTOR ONE:  The 12% figure does not include tablet devices like the Ipad.  If you add in tablets, the percentage owning an e-reading device soars to almost 20% of the population.

FACTOR TWO:  Less than half of the adults in this country are avid readers.  (Only 30% of Americans even visited a bookstore in the past five years.)  So of the actual “reading” population, the number using e-readers is probably approaching 50%

FACTOR THREE (And this is the kicker)…. That 12% rate in Pew’s survey is DOUBLE the e-reader ownership reported in Pew’s November, 2010 survey, just six months earlier.   So e-reader ownership in this country actually doubled in six months!  (Lots of people got e-readers for Christmas!)

That’s why e-book sales in America experienced a 202.3% growth in the last year while hardback and paperback sales fell 34.4%

That’s why e-books are now the single bestselling format in American publishing. (Apr 2011 Association of American Publishers)

As authors, we need to see that the publishing world is where the “horse and carriage” industry was in the early years of the 20th century.  It has a long and glorious history, but it has passed a tipping point and will never be the same again.

That makes it a whole new world for authors.   I’ve talked to many authors who have been where I’ve been for the past year.  Do I stay with the old paradigm and seek an agent and publisher… or do I take a chance on this “new thing” that’s shaking the publishing world?

That’s one of the hardest decisions any author can make, and each author needs to consider the options carefully.  I am fully convinced my SciFi thriller, Iona Portal could have done very well going the traditional route, but the more I looked at the publishing world, the more I saw that route as a dead end.  So two weeks ago I chose to launch out into uncharted waters to e-publish Iona Portal.

If you are still debating the options of self-publishing, I encourage you to read my post, 6 Reasons Why It’s Foolish Not to Self Publish.

15 thoughts on “The Realities of the E-Book Revolution

  1. Absolutely agree! My first YA novel will be out as an e-book this fall. It’s truly the way of the future and we should choose to embrace it!

  2. Pingback: Top Picks Thursday 10-6-2011 « The Author Chronicles

  3. Wow…great info there, thanks for posting it.

    I think what sticks out to me the most is that the majority of Americans haven’t even been in a bookstore in FIVE years. Now, if you factor in e-reading and ordering books to be delivered to your home, I am sure the numbers would go up some…but I don’t know how much, considering that most people that go to bookstores also do those things. What a sad commentary about our society, that reading has become such a rarity. I hope the e-publishing revolution helps change that, making books more accessible and attractive to those who might not have picked up a “real” book before.

    • Thanks for the comment! And that’s what so great about the ebook revolution… People with ereaders tend to read a LOT MORE than people reading paper books. Part of it is the price. You can get an ebook for 2.99 (Like Iona Portal, for example) that is the same quality as a book you’d pay $25 dollars for in the bookstore. (And amazingly, the author gets about the same royalty) So both the author and the reader get a great deal! With the price of ereaders falling, I believe we will see a new generation of “readers” arise!

  4. It’s good to put the logic of math to what you instintively feel is correct.

    My first novel was published down the conventional path, with little marketing or promo support, and dismal sales. The rights returned to me. I self-pubbed by Kindle and consistently outsell each year, what I sold IN TOTAL via conventional.

    I now have 5 books under 2 pen-names on Kindle, with a new one out in a few weeks. Yay for ebooks!

  5. Hi! I am an aspiring author of science fiction and am currently in the process of deciding whether to self-publish or find an agent. I’ve been doing a lot of research. There is so much info out there it’s overwhelming. Some people say yes to self-publishing while others say no. How did you go about deciding to self-publish? Also, in regard to the tablets, ipads, exc, I find that I read a lot more on my ipad kindle app (and Ibooks). Here’s why. I am visually impaired. I have enough vision to read a normal book but that requires a bright light (and more often than not being shut up in my room away from my family). With the Ipad kindle, I can make the font big (and also change the background and brightness) and read while being with my family. It’s changed how I read. And by the way, your book sounds really awesome. I hope you have success with it.

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