Doris Booth, founder of Authorlink, the news, information and marketing service for writers.

Why Haven’t E-Books Overtaken Printed Books?

November 1, 2019
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On the popular website, Quora.com, where I often hang out, my answer to the below question has gotten a lot of views, so I thought our readers might be interested in hearing my answer. The question seems relevant for self-published writers who may be trying to decide if they should offer a print version of their book, as well as an e-book.

Why have e-books not totally taken over the book market as was predicted a few years back? 

First, The U.S. eBook market did ever-so-slightly surpass the printed book market in 2017, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as reported by Statistia.com. PwC estimated that trade eBooks (excluding educational publications) were to reach $8.2 billion in sales by 2017 to surpass printed book sales, which were expected to fall from $11.9 billion in 2012 to $7.9 billion in 2017. But ebook sales have failed to fully offset the decline in printed book sales. I believe the gap continues to narrow in favor of print.

In the UK, The Guardian reported that a Nielsen survey finds UK e-book sales declined by 4% in 2016, the second consecutive year digital has shrunk. Readers committed to physical books can give a sigh of relief, as new figures reveal that e-book sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

In my opinion, several factors prevent e-books from completely overtaking printed books.

  1. SUPPLY AND DEMAND
  2. PERCEPTION
  3. PROMOTION
  4. ENDURANCE

On Quora, I explain each of these points in more detail. To read more detail click the link above.

In short, when an e-book is not properly developed, curated and promoted chances are it will sink into the inky depths of the Internet. Ultimately, buyers will wise up and follow what they perceive to be a better product. Of course, there looms another terrible reason that e-books haven’t taken over. In the US, people are not reading lengthy products as much as they once did. They have been trained to think in pictures and icons. If the text covers more than about 142 characters, chances are the thought won’t be read by as many consumers. One must “get it” at the speed of light, without quiet contemplation, without much effort. Literary books require time, thought and work. Fortunately, some audiences still appreciate books over which the author has labored for a long time. And I hope they will always be with us, regardless of the format.

Join me at Authorlink.com or on Quora.com for more conversation about writing and publishing.  I welcome your questions and comments below as well as on Quora.

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This post was written by Doris Booth

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