Remember when people rumored that vinyl records were going to be replaced with something called a CD. Many of us found this idea ridiculous. Vinyl records were owned by everyone, and everyone had record players. Well, that change came to past and it happened in a short period of time.
Years later, after everyone built their collection of VHS tapes, a new rumor emerged. VHS tapes would be replaced with a DVD. It looked like a CD but played movies instead of music. It too sounded bizarre. This change too came to past. Now, a new rumor saying eBooks will replace print books. I don’t ask if this rumor is true, I wonder when it will come to past.
For a publishing company it certainly appears to be the way to go. No longer will they have to print a certain quantity of books and hope they sell. Non-selling books are obsolete inventory. No more missed sales for not printing enough. EBooks kills many birds with one stone; you never miss a sale, no excess inventory, no shipping, do not require paper, and saves trees. 3,500 books can be stored on a 4G memory reader. EBooks are convenient, cost effective, and good for the environment. So, with the trend clear, when will the eBook overtake its printed counterpart?
The AAP has seen the rapid climb of eBooks. From June 2011 most all print categories, hardcover, paperback and mass paperback sales were down 20% or more from the previous year. EBook sales were up a staggering 167% from a year ago. Sales were $30 million in June 2010, and in a year this climbed to $80 million. According to the AAP, this was not a single month rise as the year to date sales for eBooks were up from $181.3 million to $473.8 million
CNN Money reported that eBook sales topped all other formats including both hardcover and paperback books in monthly sales for the first time in history. Although sites such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble do not report the number of reading devices being sold, each site has a very strong presence in the eBook market.
With the shift to electronic books an entirely new industry has sprung up on the Internet. An executive with Barnes and Noble, Marc Parrish, said in April 2011, traditional book retailers have as little as two years to adapt to an eBook centric industry. Sites such as Smashwords.com allow authors to self-publish their books and distribute them to major retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Such sites as Steel Diamonds Publishing strive to help eBook authors learn the new market and help them reach a larger audience.
Customers won’t be left wanting for new reading materials with millions of eBooks to choose from and hundreds more being added daily. Many best sellers are available as eBooks and can be downloaded free.
Does this mean the end of brick and mortar bookstores? Not in the immediate future but times are hard for print retailers, which were shown by the closing of Borders. Like Vinyl records and VHS tapes, the printed book is in danger of becoming obsolete. You’ll still be able to find your favorite print edition for some time, but the trend is definitely changing to a paperless book society.