During the last few days, London hosted the World e-Reading Congress. Many publishers and companies were in attendance and the big discussion going on was the fact that eBooks are gaining in leaps and bounds, while traditional print publishing is beginning to suffer.
The CEO of Harper Collins Victoria Barnsley said today that “In recent weeks, HarperCollins has seen its ebook sales growing five to 10 percent, week-on-week. The paperback fiction market this year is down seven percent in trade value – I put this almost entirely down to ebook sales … the mass-market paperback is the thing we’re going to cannibalize most.”
Meanwhile the CEO of Random House Ian Hudson added that “We’ve seen e-book growth outstrip our (total) sales this year by a factor of 10. 2010 UK growth in consumer e-book sales of two percent could exceed eight percent this year and 15 percent next year… U.S. e-book sales will more than double in 2011, taking the total sales in excess of $2 billion this year.”
Hudson during his address focused on the relevance of traditional publishers, arguing even well-known self-published authors such as Joe Konrath and Stephen Leather needed to use editors. He said: “Editorial excellence is what we’ve built our business on and just because it is now possible to go it alone, it doesn’t mean that’s the best course of action for the author or their book. Indeed it almost certainly isn’t. This pre-selection and creative editorial role which has historically established a quality threshold gives readers a degree of confidence that the time investment they make in reading a book will be well rewarded. In a digital world this will be more important than ever as the internet and e-book sites become flooded with self-published titles.”
Hudson finished his address with some friendly encouragement for independent authors, which I found quite riveting. He promoted the fact that you should continue to innovate via “Enhanced eBooks.” That is, eBooks with the ability to include, audio, video, and interactive content. He said that constant innovation would separate authors who take the time to add new content from the rest of the pack.
It is no secret that eBooks are on the rise and even online juggernaut Amazon recently said that eBooks are selling on a 2:1 ratio vs. printed books. The Association of American Publishing also found that eBooks are experiencing triple digit increases. In February they increased 202.3%, vs February 2010. If you look at January and February 2011 vs January/February 2010, which encompasses this heavy post-holiday buying period, e-Books grew 169.4% to $164.1M while the combined categories of print books fell 24.8% to $441.7M.
Although ebooks are rising, print publishing still remains strong, but for how much longer? Borders went bankrupt and many other bookstores are feeling the pinch. The digital realm continues to expand due to convergence in tablet computers and e-readers being capable of more functions than just reading.
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Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.