Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Do you welcome your coming e-book overlords?

Nathan Bransford shows a trend, here.

My vote? Actually, I am part of the 19% of respondents who chose: “I might buy mostly e-books, if the price and technology is right, and it looks cool.”

I mean, I don’t have an e-reader. Yet. Not philosophically opposed, but hey, I have a LOT of print books right this minute.

Plus, the free/very cheap books that people usually load up their readers with the minute they get them? Not interested because not only am I not suffering from a shortage of reading material, I also don’t know how many of those free books would be books that a) I haven’t already read and also b) I would actually want to read.

But! I have allowed friends to show me their kindles, and yes, they are nice, and yes again, the reading experience looks like it would be fine, and no, I no longer use the term “real” to mean “paper.”

I recently read (somewhere, don’t remember, sorry) that e-books are still really only about 5% of total sales. Then we get articles like this and I wonder if that’s still true?

Except that e-book sales can jump 200% but if you’re starting with rather low absolute numbers, then 200% growth can quite easily still leave you with rather low absolute numbers. So it’s not that easy to really compare sales unless you have numbers or relative percentages that actually compare print vs e-books, which is harder to find.

It’s actually worse than that, because as Mike Shatzkin pointed out here, e-book sales are direct to customers, while print sales are often publisher’s sales to bookstores and subject to returns.

Also . . . I wonder what percentage of all sales are of very cheap used books? There’s a market niche that where it’d be hard for e-format to encroach on paper. Surely I can’t be the only one who frequently “tries out” a new author by buying a used book? I’ve been burned too often buying a hyped hardcover new and then finding out it’s not for me. If I love the author, I then switch to buying books new, but how many readers buy used books only? I bet there is or will be a big overlap there with people who load up their readers with only free / very cheap e-books. I wonder how those sales are going to affect the market over time.

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