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E-Book Sales Have Tripled In the Last Year 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-we-only-kill-trees-out-of-spite dept.
destinyland writes "The Association of American Publishers revealed today that e-book sales have tripled in the last year. Sixteen publishers reported that in February e-book sales totaled more than $90.3 million, a 202.3% increase over e-book sales in February of 2010. Meanwhile, sales of adult hardcover books have dropped 43%, while mass-market paperback sales dropped 41.5% (earning just $46.2 million and $29.3 million, respectively). The book publishing association acknowledged that readers have 'made e-books permanent additions to their lifestyle,' arguing that publishers 'are constantly redefining the timeless concept of "books"' and identifying new audiences they can serve through emerging technologies. 'It's nice to see that book publishers are aware of the changes rocking their industry,' notes one e-book blog, 'and that they're approaching it with a sense of history.'"
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E-Book Sales Have Tripled In the Last Year

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  • Meanwhile, sales of adult hardcover books have dropped 43%

    I've heard of adult books with crusty pages, but never one with a hardcover.

  • by xMrFishx (1956084) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:15AM (#35828236)
    One still has to buy an ebook even if they own it in paper, pay twice why don't you? In addition, should one want an ebook alone, the cost tends to be comparative to the paper format, or sometimes more, and let us not even mention DRM. I'm waiting for the costs of ebooks to drop to something more reasonable and comparative to the cost of creation/distribution (mostly distribution and production; writing costs will be the same as paper). Admittedly I may be waiting a while, so in that time I'll continue to buy paper books, whilst the whole world of copyleft implodes upon itself and creates a worm hole to L-space.
    • While I agree that it would be nice for e-books to be cheaper why do individuals insist on comparing the price of a newly released e-book to a paperback when most books are released first as hard covers which typically run from 20-30 dollars. Following the same model newly released ebooks at the price of 10 dollars are half the price of the competition.

      By the way most libraries have an e-book shelf that you can use to borrow from for the cost of a library card FREE.

      • by xMrFishx (1956084)
        No idea if British libraries have an ebook thingy or not mind you.

        On the note of cost, I wouldn't mind paying £1-3 in addition to the paper book cost for a DRM free ebook copy. That probably covers the relative overheads of hosting, bandwidth and server admins (or something that does) without giving double profits to the publisher. I'm mostly against double dipping for a format change. Cover your overheads, yes, double your profits, ha no.

        Quick example: book from Apress (random) http://www.a [apress.com]
        • Why assume double dipping for the publisher? I suspect Amazon does most of the double-dipping.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Because Hard Covers are an addition to a collection for most people, THAT is why they can charge a premium.

        The cover type is irrelevant when talking about eBooks. It's just data, and it is priced way too high, for now. Looking at sales numbers, authors make more money selling an eBook at 99 cents then at full price.
        Publishing house will nearly go away in the next decade. It's to easy and to lucrative to self publish an ebook. 1000 bucks and you can get widely published among every ebook type, and you get 60

        • The cover type is irrelevant when talking about eBooks. It's just data, and it is priced way too high, for now. Looking at sales numbers, authors make more money selling an eBook at 99 cents then at full price.

          Surely, with transition to online sales, the "fair price" would be stabilized much quicker because there's more competition? If, as you say, most books are better off sold at $.99, then that's what Amazon will also end up doing, since they get a direct cut of the profit.

      • by demonbug (309515)

        While I agree that it would be nice for e-books to be cheaper why do individuals insist on comparing the price of a newly released e-book to a paperback when most books are released first as hard covers which typically run from 20-30 dollars. Following the same model newly released ebooks at the price of 10 dollars are half the price of the competition.

        I don't. I compare to hardbacks. Amazon had Patrick Rothfuss' newest book for about $15 in hardback, or the e-book for $12. So, save $3 dollars to get a digital copy, which I can't lend, can't give to someone else when I'm done, can't sell to a used bookstore, etc.

        So yes, I think that e-book prices need to see a major reduction. They are very limited, are significantly cheaper to produce and distribute (approximately 0 marginal cost), and yet cost more than a paperback and nearly as much as a high-volume ha

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          It's the same problem that exists for digital music sales. I've often seen new release CDs sell cheaper than the same album on iTunes. Digital items should be much cheaper, and get more sales in volume (because manufacturing and distribution are free). Make things cheap enough to get impulse sales. Charge $2 for an ebook or $2 for an album, and just sti back and watch people buy 100 times more stuff.
      • by Omestes (471991)

        And then the ebook stays at that price when the paperback comes out. It stays at that price when the paperback his used bookstores and discount bins. Yes, ebook pricing is better than hardcover pricing, but thats about it.

          Really ebooks should follow the price of the book.For a $30 hardcover the ebook should be $15. When the book hits $10 paperback, the price should drop to $5. A year or so after the paperback the price should drop to $1 or $2.

      • Publishers chose to train readers to associate high cost initial releases to higher quality binding rather that the release time. If, as they claim, hardcovers cost not much more than paperbacks to manufacture, they've been putting out books in lower quality bindings,why, just to be dicks?

        They've made their bed, now it's time to lie in it. Ebooks will be priced based on the quality of the manufacture, not their release date. The difference can come out of their bottom line.

    • Publishers hate ebooks. They would far rather you buy paperbacks, which is why they're being such dicks about prices and "windowing".

      If you want to protest, pirate.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:16AM (#35828252)

    Wife has a Nook. I have a Kindle. We are each inseparable from these devices, which are each currently filled with easily a two-year backlog of books waiting to be read. If you distribute a book, and there is no electronic version of it available, it's gonna have to be the Word of God newly etched on tablets for either of us to even consider buying it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Too bad you cannot share a book you find interesting, unless you give her your kindle. Remember those days when we were kids, when we used to read it and pass it to our friends when we were done because they were "freaking awesome!!11!". :(

      I am all for ebooks, they save environment and everything (till it gets to the point where people start tossing out their kindles and nooks). But there just has to be a way to enable sharing.

      • by iamhassi (659463)
        Ebooks do not save the environment. While you might think so because we are not cutting down trees for books you have to remember that books are usually kept forever, people do not usually throw away books, they end up getting donated and eventually land in a library somewhere. The exception is textbooks, because when a new version comes out every school requires that new version so the old versions are recycled. Very few books end up in landfills because they can be easily recycled unlike consumer elect
        • by delinear (991444)
          Besides, the majority of trees that are cut down to make books are grown specifically for that purpose. They're at worst carbon neutral, at best they're providing woodland that otherwise would be given over to agriculture or industry. Admittedly shipping them about is still harmful, but so is shipping a bunch of components from around the globe to build an e-reader.
        • Physical books consume "house space", which is a _very_ expensive economic resource where I live. You also need to carry them every time you move (for one reason or another, I move rather frequently). When my wife wants to reach for one of her old books, she simply can't as they are all in boxes as we don't have the shelve space for them.

          FWIW I've been trying to get rid of many paper books I own, and (trust me) often libraries won't take them. Simple paperbacks are often refused. Part of the reason is that

      • by mdielmann (514750)

        I don't buy DRM-encumbered eBooks. If anyone wants to borrow a book from me, electronic or otherwise, it can be done. Moreover, I can read my ebooks on any device I have that supports them, and can easily convert between formats with calibre [calibre-ebook.com].

        • I've resisted so far as well. Thankfully at least a couple of vendors offer DRM free versions of ebooks like Baen [webscription.net].

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        they save environment and everything

        Uh, no, you have that backwards.

        Growing trees and cutting them down and printing books from them removes CO2 from the air. And I will point out that every book printed is using using waste wood from lumber operations, and/or trees specifically grown to to make paper from. No one's wandering around forests cutting down existing trees for paper. Worrying about 'cutting down trees' is like worrying about 'cutting down corn'...I don't think we're going to run out of corn.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Word of God newly etched on tablets "
      funny, that's exactly what most authors think there work is~

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Yep. I've only bought 1 paper book since I've bought my kindle several years ago.

      After reading all the responses to this article, I'm going to turn it into an e-book. Apparently, it's easy.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's sort of my thought on the matter. I've yet to come across a book, with the possible exception of a reference book, that was worth the migraines I get from trying to position myself to read for more than a few minutes. There's also the issue of trying to store these books. And that should be something that the publishers are worried about because otherwise why bother buying new?

      Book people seem to think that there's something about physical books that's innately pleasurable, but really that's just an

      • by Omestes (471991)

        at was worth the migraines I get from trying to position myself to read for more than a few minutes.

        You should see a doctor about that, perhaps an optometrist. That isn't natural, and might point at some abnormal physiological problem.

        There's also the issue of trying to store these books. And that should be something that the publishers are worried about because otherwise why bother buying new?

        I hear there is a new invention for the convenient storage and retrieval of physical books... It involves a vertical arrangement of horizontal shelves, books can then be placed on these shelves for storage, and organized in various ways for rapid retrieval. I've seen them slowly coming to stores, there might even be one near you.

        Books are innately pleasurable, good book

      • Same here. I had been buying less books than what I would otherwise, because of lack of storage space.

        There is so much material for (legal) download or for sale at Amazon, that I really only consider buying a book if I can easily get it in my Kindle. Not to mention having adjustable font sizes. Putting travel guides into the mobile (Kindle app) is also a major convenience.

        All this people that imagine donating books their grand children... they for sure /never/ gave thought about the true cost of hoarding al

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      there is no electronic version of it available, it's gonna have to be the Word of God newly etched on tablets for either of us to even consider buying it.

      No, God isn't a very good writer. His last work etched on tablet, he couldn't even bother to edit it down. It's like he released his first draft. Even Carlin was able to enact a 10 to 2 reduction:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzEs2nj7iZM [youtube.com]

      And let's not mention all the plot holes.

  • In other news.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Publishing costs have gone down to approximately nil, while revenues have remained stable and profits have jumped sky high.

    Why the fuck should we pay more than a dollar for a file? People paying $20+ for an ebook (the link below shows some close to the price of a modest house) aren't just stupid, they're fucking stupid. There's no reason you should pay that much beyond enriching the greedy publishers and sellers like Amazon - I don't see licensing or odd behind-the-scenes costs (again, see below) as real co

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Perhaps you'd have a different opinion if you, say, wrote books for a living.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Perhaps you'd have a different opinion if you, say, wrote books for a living.

        From talking to published authors, they typically seem to get $1-2 per physical book sale, so they could still make more money if their ebooks were available for $2.99 on Amazon ($2.99 is about $2 per book at Amazon royalty rates). Most of the money in writing goes to the publisher and the retailer, not the author.

  • Experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:33AM (#35828424)

    I bought a Kindle for my wife as a Christmas present a few years back. To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house (she's always been a serious book hound). She wasn't completely sold on the idea, but it only took her a week or so to completely fall in love with the device.

    Then this past winter I got one when I found I was going to be "arm less" for six weeks due to shoulder surgery. I also wasn't sold on the device, but have quickly come around. In some ways it's actually more convenient to read than a paper book! And while my initial thought was "Buttons? I dunno, multi-touch is much better" - I now think the navigation buttons are a better way to go. You can easily turn pages on a Kindle using the same hand you're holding the "book", which is not true of an iPad - or even a paper book.

    I am bothered by the DRM issue, and initially it held me back from making the move to an e-reader. But since I currently can (and do) strip the DRM from my e-books and copy them to my media backup disk, these concerns don't stop me from using the technology. But I'm hoping someone in authority will eventually step forward with a "Thoughts on DRM" missive regarding e-books - as we've seen with music, selling people DRM-encumbered media has potentially dire long-term consequences; and it's not a given we'll always have the ability (even "underground") to remove it.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The advantage to DRM is that library will have a way to lend eBooks. In this regard, it doesn't bother me. I would much rather see something put on place that re-enforces our right. Like making it illegal for a company to 'buy back' a book from a consumer without the consumers consent. Consent must be on a book by book basis.

      If it had DRM, but the consumer had the power, I would be fine with it.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house

      There's this new invention called the bookcase [wikipedia.org].

      • bookcase.

        Ha ha, our bookcases were full over a decade ago. The piles of books initially were just in front of the bookcases, but I think they've somehow acheived sentience and move around while everyone's asleep.

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        I just hope you don't have to move too often. Oh boy are those dead trees heavy.

      • To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house

        There's this new invention called the bookcase [wikipedia.org].

        There's this requirement for bookcases, it is called space [wikipedia.org].

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Then this past winter I got one when I found I was going to be "arm less" for six weeks due to shoulder surgery. I also wasn't sold on the device, but have quickly come around. In some ways it's actually more convenient to read than a paper book! And while my initial thought was "Buttons? I dunno, multi-touch is much better" - I now think the navigation buttons are a better way to go. You can easily turn pages on a Kindle using the same hand you're holding the "book", which is not true of an iPad - or even a paper book.

      As a book hound as well, I have no problems turning pages on my iPad with one hand. A flick of the thumb and the page changes. And even in paperback as I hold a book in one hand and just relax the thumb a little to let a page go. Like both, it's not perfect as I don't give enough of a flick on the iPad for it to go or let too many pages go when relaxing my thumb.

      [John]

    • by IICV (652597)

      I bought a Kindle for my wife as a Christmas present a few years back. To be frank, my main purpose was to address the problem we had with ever-growing, increasingly-unstable, easy-to-trip-over piles of books scattered somewhat randomly around our house (she's always been a serious book hound). She wasn't completely sold on the idea, but it only took her a week or so to completely fall in love with the device.

      We had pretty much the same problem, except with printouts of scientific literature. My wife initia

  • by Ltap (1572175)
    It's too bad that, now that publishers realize that ebooks are here to stay, they are trying to take advantage of the situation by keeping prices high and using proprie
    • by Ltap (1572175)
      Errr, correction:

      It's too bad that, now that publishers realize that ebooks are here to stay, they are trying to take advantage of the situation by keeping prices high and using proprie

      ...tary formats (often device-specific) and DRM. My apologies. I will now save face by blaming Slashdot 3.0 and watch as people mod me up.

  • I refuse to buy e-Books until the prices come down to lower than paperbacks (Kindle books usually same price as paperbacks) and I have similar rights per their use as I have with a paper book (which I can sell and lend). And I'm certainly not going to buy them if they are locked to a device or a certain company's devices.
  • by anethema (99553) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:36AM (#35828460) Homepage
    I know slashdot tends to be a little Luddite-ish when it comes to ebooks/ereaders for some reason, but as an avid reader I couldn't be more happy.

    When I go to Mexico on vacation, I usually go through a book every day or two. This means I would almost need an entire suitcase for books. With my Kindle, I just bring it! When I still manage to run out of books, the kindle has 3G damn near anywhere on earth for free, and I simply buy more. I have any book I want within seconds pretty much.

    They are FAR more comfortable to read with than a real book as they are light and small, and don't have a fat side depending how far into the book you are. Nothing more annoying than starting a book and wanting to lay on your left side to read it. You also never have the problem of dry fingers having trouble getting a grip on the page, or accidentally grabbing 2 pages by accident.

    Some people like to show off their book collections, or bring up that dropping a book and an ebook reader off a building only the book is more likely to survive, but for the massive massive convenience benefits, I suggest you store your ego, and take better care of your stuff. I'll worry about not being able to get new books (even though you can put text files on it over USB fine) when Amazon goes out of business.

    This way books are cheaper, faster/easier to get, lighter, and easier to read. For me it is a no brainer.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Becasue theya re emotional attached to the idea of a 'book'. I have started to think there are two kinds of readers: readers who enjoy reading, and people who like to collect books. Not the story, but the idea I ahve a paper bound thing.

      These people usually stand out. When you ask them about there book they will rush to tell you about how much they read and how many books they have.
      I used to read to collect books, but I moved on.

      I bought a kindle for my wife. Who likes reading romance, and there are a ton o

    • I know slashdot tends to be a little Luddite-ish when it comes to ebooks/ereaders for some reason, but as an avid reader I couldn't be more happy.

      They are FAR more comfortable to read with than a real book as they are light and small, and don't have a fat side depending how far into the book you are. Nothing more annoying than starting a book and wanting to lay on your left side to read it. You also never have the problem of dry fingers having trouble getting a grip on the page, or accidentally grabbing 2 pages by accident.

      I honestly have not yet found an e-reader that is comfortable to hold while reading. I have tried several, but never purchased one. Perhaps it becomes more comfortable once you "get used to it" after a few days.

      That is the only thing holding me back. No submerged Luddite desires, just comfort.

      • by fafaforza (248976)

        It's a thin rectangle. Only so many ways of holding one. On my Sony PRS-650, I can pull back and sandwich the cover between my fingers. So holding it takes no effort, just the friction. And I can swipe with my thumb to change pages (the Sony has a touch screen). The cover also allows you to prop up the reader on your chest while laying on your back, works even better in landscape mode.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      I know slashdot tends to be a little Luddite-ish when it comes to ebooks/ereaders for some reason

      DRM probably. I certainly would have one otherwise.

    • Just get a book about Mexico. It's cheaper than going there just to read :D
  • by sarbonn (1796548) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:37AM (#35828480) Homepage Journal
    I'm a novelist who has been published by legacy publishers (old style of publishing). As a writer who has moved over to the e-reader market, I've been doing a lot of networking with a lot of writers who are writing specifically for Kindle and Nook markets. What's interesting is that publishers still want to force their tiny royalty schedule onto writers, even though the costs to the publishers have gone to practically nothing. Sure, in the beginning, a publisher puts forth a bit of the upfront costs (including an advance), but what then happens is that the writer receives a tiny fraction of the profit. This was somewhat fine with the legacy model, but now with e-readers, publishers STILL want to keep 90 percent of the profit. One of my publishers sent me an email informing me that because my sales were good, they were going to "reward" me with 20 percent of ebook sales. Yet, when I put books directly onto the Kindle, I received 70 percent of the profit (Amazon keeps 30 percent). Until publishers start moving into the future of this dynamic, the industry is going to make a move much like the music industry did. Right now, publishers are scrambling to maintain control, because the only real positive they have in their favor is that they used to be able to get your books into a bookstore. Now, anyone can get onto the Internet and Amazon. All they have left to offer is marketing, and strangely enough, about ten years ago, unless you were a Stephen King level of writer, they weren't doing any marketing for lower level writers. Which means, the publishing industry is about to implode.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      Publishers vary quite a bit in terms of both royalties and freedom they provide to the customer. I'm not sure what O'Reilly pays for the books they publish, but the terms of the digital distribution are really generous. No DRM, multiple formats and sometimes even minor updates to the book.

      The main downside with them is a lot of the older books are still PDF. But the ebooks are often cheaper than the print and you can even get the two bundled together if you wish.

      As far as novels go, I don't know of any that

  • One of my favorites autors (mostly selfpublishing nowadays) predicts that it will collapse by the end of the year. I guess he is right, e.g. there is this self-publishing guy, who sells a couple of 100,000 ebooks per year for 99 cent. And that other guy, who refused 500 grand and selfpublishes instead. http://www.michaelastackpole.com/?p=2436 [michaelastackpole.com] http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/03/09/0618234/Crime-Writer-Makes-a-Killing-With-99-Cent-E-Books [slashdot.org] http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/03/22/0125218/Best-Selling-Author- [slashdot.org]
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Friday April 15, 2011 @10:41AM (#35828544)

      I think we're going to see dramatic changes in publishing, but not to that extent. Self-publishing is great if you've already built up a reputation through print publishing, but for someone who's just starting out as a writer they're stuck with trying to differentiate themselves from the 99% of self-published fiction that's simply dire.

      Having a known publisher's logo on your ebook is going to be beneficial for quite some time, if only to say 'give this book a try, it's not crap like all those other ones you've looked at'. Plus most writers want to write, not spend time marketing, creating book covers, etc.

      • by xMrFishx (1956084)
        It might be interesting then to establish a quality mark for self-publishers as a way of denoting quality reading. I guess this would really be a publisher who operated entirely around ebooks, but didn't run at the costs of a major publisher. I'm thinking small percent profit instead of $Everything for the sake of handling operating costs. I'd say have a free one, which could also work, but then you'd get a scratch mine scratch yours system where quality could slip, thus defeating the point of the system
      • by nomadic (141991)
        Personally I avoid self-published books; I just don't have the time and energy to wade through the junk. Frankly, most people who want to be writers lack the ability, and always will, but they have this image of themselves as uniquely talented, but it's just not so. At least with publishers someone else waded through the slush pile.
  • I can envision a future with pervasive encrypted permissions in which a glitch or attack will cause us to lose access to a significant part of our writings and media for an indeterminate period of time.
    A world without open source books and readers will be like giving us Harkonnen heart-plugs.
  • E-books read YOU!
  • Even though the newest price has almost fallen to double digits. I'd be way too tempted to buy more books than I read and spend lots of money. Of course that is Amazon's goal.
  • Anyone have experience with that model? Seems to look good, but never saw it 'live'...

    Also seems to be very hard to get. Even the Sony store here doesn't have it. :-/

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      They've been having supply issues for a good while now. There are even rumors that Sony is not replenishing the supply because they want to get out of the eReader business. They might not be able to compete with Amazon on price, with amazon having a huge book store to offset low device prices.

      But at the same time, the Sony supports more formats, whereas the Kindle doesn't open ePub. You can also rent books from the library, which I don't think the Kindle supports.

      The device itself is great. Highlighting

  • I like to browse in bookstores with physical books. I haven't found any kind of e-browsing that competes with it. The only thing that's close to it is to download the entire book and page freely.

    To avoid overfilling my house with bookshelves, or putting shelves in front of shelves and making them inaccessible, I've decided to use e-books whenever possible (they still don't work well for art books, for example).

    When I decide to buy the book I'm browsing as a paper copy, I'd like to buy and download it on t

  • but I am not going to pay nine dollars for a paperback I can buy used for two dollars. Worse, the author passed many years ago and gave the rights to his university. So now the e-book version costs as much as the large format paper back versions, the small ones are seven dollars or such.

    Where is the value? Out of the the ten or so e-books I tried to buy only one had price parity with paperbacks, the rest were priced over ten dollars a pop and in all cases I am looking at books over ten years old, many twent

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