Be honest. How many times have visited Amazon or Barnes & Noble to grab that must-read e-book that everyone’s been ranting and raving about only to change your mind soon after? The perks of reading digitally cannot be denied. Not only are e-books a great way to keep your stacks of books to an untroublesome level (Marie Kondo would be proud), but the very nature of digital books also makes them more convenient than their traditional counterparts.
The ebook revolution took shape at the start of the 2010s. By the time Amazon’s kindle had been released, it was evident to lovers of books everywhere that these little reading gadgets weren’t fads. Ebooks were expected to disrupt the industry at a considerable level. However, ebooks sales today are yet to outperform print sales.
At the beginning of the decade, analysts though the scenario would be the reverse. Instead, ebook sales have stabilized and it mostly has to do with Millenials’ and Genz’s general lack of interest in reading. Understandably so, most people these days seem to be glued to their Instagrams which leaves older readers as the majority users of ebooks.
Why? Older readers don’t have to make unnecessary trips to the bookstore thanks to ebooks. They can also easily adjust the font, to make it bigger or smaller, which makes them more convenient than print books.
With the growth of technology and the explosion of affordable internet services, digital reading devices such as Kindle should be more popular than ever. These devices provide individuals access to thousands of books that are often available for the fraction of the cost of the same physical copy.
And yet, the e-book market hasn’t always been the most successful despite such benefits for a couple of reasons that include:
The selection of books isn’t always great
e-book subscription services like to trumpet the fact that they can give the reader access to millions of books. And while this may be accurate, the quality of the books available isn’t always great. Look around these subscription services and you will have a hard time finding bestselling or popular books available.
None of the major publishing houses go out of their way to make their books available to such subscription services. This means that if you are in the market for a book by anyone of the critically acclaimed publishers, the likes of HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and more, you are better off looking for books in a brick and mortar store.
Most subscription services aren’t worth the money
Although a measly subscription fee of $9.99 every month may not sound like much for all the ebooks you can read, you might change your mind after you consider that the price of the titles available is actually quite affordable without the subscription.
The vast number of self-published books on such services go for less than $5 with some even being less than $1. This means that to make up for the $9.99 fee per month, you will need to read more books than you are capable of.
Lack of support from the major publishers
Another simple reason why ebook services have not taken off is that all the major book publishers refuse to support these services. As it stands, there are currently about 5 major publishers namely Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House (PRH), HarperCollins. These big-name publishers account for about 70% of all book sales in the country.
Ebook subscription services can only attain the level of success that they hope to when these big-time publishers agree to license their catalogs to them so that users can have access to deep and wide-ranging catalogs of content at a fixed price per month.
What about ebook sales in 2020?
2020 is unlike any year that we have ever experienced. With a pandemic on our hands, books and ebooks, in particular, have never been more popular. With the COVID-19 crisis forcing all bookstores and libraries closed for the foreseeable future, the world has seen a revival of ebooks.
The market, which has been steadily declining for the past couple of years, is now one of the safest and most convenient ways for readers to get their fix during the pandemic. The pandemic has affected various sectors in different ways. In the publishing sector, it has led to an unexpected and gigantic shift in consumer behavior.
This year, ebook sales have ramped up and the situation is expected to continue. The book market has historically always outperformed many others in instances of economic upheaval and downturn such as now.
Case in point, after the Great Recession, book sales continued to grow almost every year after proving that there is expected to be a catastrophic rise in demand for ebooks as the pandemic progresses. Some of the well-performing genres include books that promote self-sufficiency such as gardening and homemaking books.
Children’s books, as well as educational ones, are also in high demand with parents being forced to homeschool their children. Not only are ebook sales up, but so are audiobooks as well. Bookstores all over the world are obviously struggling as a result and many will unfortunately not survive the turmoil that has been caused by the pandemic.
The sci-fi market has also taken off during the pandemic and justifiably so. If you are in the market for great sci-fi books, here is a comprehensive list that will get you started.
The predictions about the growth of the ebooks market made all those years ago were largely incorrect until the start of the pandemic. Before the COVID-19 crisis, a good number of people still preferred the feeling of holding and perusing print books over their digital counterparts.
Even though ebooks aren’t going away anytime soon thanks to the pandemic, print books have been forced to take a back seat. Thus far, ebooks have managed to impact some markets, specifically in the UK and the US considerably, as well as particular genres such as fantasy romance and young adult.
Ebooks have also done wonders to promote self-publishers. Hopefully, the numbers will take off in the future with ebooks becoming as pervasive as Netflix or Spotify subscriptions.