eBook reading is on the rise, primarily due to the sheer amount of e-readers and tablets being adopted. The number of adults who have read an eBook in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012. As much as digital reading has increased, print remains the foundation of the vast majority of Americans reading habits. Although there is a crossover of being reading both print and eBooks, only 4% of readers read eBooks exclusively.
Borders went bankrupt and Barnes and Noble is closing many locations in the US. Total sales at U.S. bookstores have fallen 22% over the past five years. Things are bleak overseas with Weltbild, the second largest bookstore chain in Germany is going out of business and many in Australia and New Zealand have also disappeared. Amazon is often vilified as being the catalyst of these stores closing and often incurs the most ire.
Reading in general is not declining, with 76% of American adults have read at least one book in the last 12 months. The typical adult normally reads 5 books a year and the average is around 12. All of these statistics lend credence to the fact that most readers are agnostic to digital or print.
Worldwide, digital reading is accelerating, even though 4% of readers actually do it exclusively. Ebooks made up 17% of sales at Harper Collins unit over the holidays, up from 14% last year and nothing five years ago. Ebooks hit 33% of sales at the Hachette Book Group and 23% at Simon and Schuster.
Worldwide, more people are reading eBooks, but they are still buying books at their local bookstore or second hand shop. Bookstores over their lifetime have basically had a monopoly on sales, but the industry has been disrupted by companies like Amazon, Kobo and Sony. This is prompting bookstores to free up bookshelves with lifestyle items, such as pillows, wine glasses and candles. No major bookstore, other than Barnes and Noble has actually made their own digital system. This is actually a bad thing, because bookstores aren’t substituting lost sales with digital ones.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.