Comment to: Print Lives!

Comment to LinkedIn message about the article from the Atlantic Magazine The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead

A more in-depth discussion about these numbers is here: In short, they found:

“So far in 2015, the AAP’s reports have charted a progressive decline in both ebook sales and overall revenue for the AAP’s member publishers.”


“During that same period in 2015, Amazon’s overall ebook sales have continued to grow in both unit and dollar terms, fueled by a strong shift in consumer ebook purchasing behavior away from traditionally-published ebooks and toward indie-published- and Amazon-imprint-published ebooks.

These “non-traditionally-published” books now make up nearly 60% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in the US, and take in 40% of all consumer dollars spent on those ebooks.”

So, they conclude that the traditional publishers are losing market share, but that the independents are doing much better, and that actually, ebook publishing is higher than ever. What is happening is that people are turning away from the traditional publishers. The main publishers’ decision to raise prices hurt their sales seriously. People have found that they have a choice.

I love printed books, but I think we are living on borrowed time. The Google Books-Publishers agreement was not implemented, but if it had gone through and there was full access to all of Google Books–through libraries!–the information world would be completely different than it is now. If all of those Google Books were available electronically, it would have to hit circulation numbers somehow. I wonder how much?

Those scans in Google Books will be made available sooner or later, no matter how much the publishers want to stop people from accessing them. And that will be the moment of real change. I hope libraries will be up to the challenge.




  1. Ron Murray said:

    Upon reading the detailed analysis cited above, the author’s statement”

    “The only thing that we’re certain of is that the publishing industry is far from stabilizing. From here forward, the rapid pace of change will only accelerate.”

    comes to mind. To the extent that publishing is influenced/determined by behind-the=scenes changes in readership, we can think in terms of “generational change” and “maturational change.”

    It’s evidently that case that “right now,” notable differences in digital resource/device use exist between generations, and energize speculation based on short-term (market-exploitable) changes in resource utilization and device use.

    What’s also of interest to me is how “digital resource consumption” will change as a function of reader age and life experience. Given that reading-friendly technologies have undergone a rapid (and so far incomplete) evolution in only the last few years, I don’t think that we have a clear idea of how readers will want to engage their resources over their lifespan.

    We *can* look at the adoption rates of existing age cohorts (snapshots) for clues, but our considerations would have to include and compensate for reader’s attitudes toward innovations (anything perceived as different and new) in addition to interest in reading.

    I suspect there will be a big difference in how tablets and similar electronic devices will be perceived after they’ve been on the market for more than a generation. So I think that libraries have to (continue to) consider both the short game and the long game as they develop and refine their outreach programs.

    September 29, 2015
    • Yes, I agree. My own feelings is that, although I have a very personal relationship with books, people born later will look at electronic books (or whatever they become) without that special feeling, and they will see “books” with embedded audio and video, they will look up words without pulling out a heavy dictionary, it will be interactive in all kinds of ways. For instance, science books will be able to show videos or animations of experiments instead of trying to imagine it from drawings.
      Compared to such a dynamic and interactive contrivance, a printed, physical book will be seen as dead.
      I like any real book, but I prefer older books that were made manually. Where you can feel where the type pressed into the paper and you can feel the quality and skill of the binder. A modern book churned out automatically is much less interesting to me.
      I just figure everything will be made available in digital form and if somebody wants a physical book, they can go to something like an Espresso Book Machine and print out a bound copy.

      October 1, 2015

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