I recently read the article on the digitalbookworld website by Jeremy Greenfield: More Americans Reading Ebooks, New Pew Data Show and thought that this would be a great blogpost now that the new year has begun in earnest. First let me say it is refreshing to hear that Americans are reading at all. This in no way is meant to be a slap at the American public, the rationale concerns all of the different pastimes that conspire to eat up more of American’s free-time. Those who read an e-book in 2013 rose from 23% to 28% of the American public. Although the print book industry is still the largest in the publishing world, the Ebook market in 2013 again saw an increase in sales of 2.2%
Reading is Fundamental
Although the consumption of e-books has increased the actual sale of Ebooks in 2013 was flat. This arena of flatness would be inclusive of large publishing companies, and would not be indicative of all the self-published Ebooks that were produced and sold in 2013. The fact that 50% of American adults now own a tablet or Ereader is an indicator that the future of Ebooks is all but certain to be bright. This article did not say anything about where the Ebooks were obtained but only that there was an increase of Ebooks that were read in 2013. That may mean that subscription based services such as Oyster and Scribd are getting more traction in the Ebook world than previously recognized. Another avenue of Ebook transmission to consumers would be the public library. We don’t know how many people have read Ebooks that they signed out from their local public library. My guess would be in this economic climate that more Americans have been getting Ebooks through their public library then had been originally predicted.
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The Electronic/Digital Revolution in Book Publishing: History, Industry Perspective (Print and E-book) and “How To” Publish Your E-book for Amazon Kindle
Children’s Books are Read
Children are also reading more Ebooks but their ability is constrained by economic realities. Children who are born into more economically hard-shipped families will be less inclined to have Ebooks and Ebook readers readily available. Those at the higher end of the economic levels are much more apt to have the readers and tablets that would make downloading and accessing Ebooks readily available. The fact that half of the American population now owns a tablet or Ereader will mean Americans reading Ebooks should begin to skyrocket as 2014 progresses. This does not mean that sales of Ebooks will increase just that those who have the ability to have an Ereader available to them will be able to read an Ebook if they choose to.
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What do We Know and How Do We Know It?
What have we learned from this research? The first thing we can ascertain is that the print industry is not going to be going away anytime soon. The second thing we can figure on is that Ebooks sales will continue to grow but possibly not at the rate that Ebooks are being read and consumed. The Ereaders that are already out in the field will reap high gains in Ebook readers. With many Americans still unemployed the number of Ebooks read that were borrowed from the public library could skyrocket. This is not necessarily a bad thing since most public libraries are workforce centers that are heavily utilized by the unemployed labor force in this country. It would be much more heartening to see the number 2 as the average number of books read per American per year, rather than the number 1. Only time will tell if sales and consumption will merge into one and the same statistic going forward into the future.