Last December when I wrote, "Angela Hoy provides thought-provoking advice about e-books and the reading public: Read, 75% of Americans DON'T Own Ebook Readers - Are you ignoring 75% of the book buying market?! on WritersWeekly ," I received a number of insightful thoughts that will give you something to consider for your own writing\marketing plans.
Les Denham said,
Admittedly my observation of the market may be skewed, since I live in Amazon's home town. But since I started working in downtown Seattle a month ago, commuting daily by public transit, I have seen a LOT of people reading Kindles. And a lot of people reading tablets. And literally everyone seems to have a smartphone, and many of them are reading on them as well (including me on occasion).
"I'm sure Angela has some points, but as someone else pointed out the 75% who don't own an e-reader includes a lot who don't read at all. This suggests that only about 60% of the population is likely to do any significant amount of reading, and if all of those with e-readers are in that 60%, about 40% of readers have access to e-books.
Angela's anecdote about her Dad, who reads, but not e-books, is just one person. I can supply a counter to that: my own reading habits. I'm several years older than Angela's Dad, but not retired and with no significant health issues. Since June I have been keeping a log of the books I've read. In that time I have read 21 books, all except three of them novels, mostly from the 19th century, though including three first published within the last five years. This has been a total of over 6,000 pages of reading. Only four of these books were actual paper books. All the others I read on my Nook.
I am currently reading three books, two paper and one electronic. On the other hand, I have also read nearly two hundred newspapers and perhaps twenty or thirty magazines in this time period, none of them electronically, and hundreds of websites, all of them electronically. So for books, about 80% of my reading is electronic. For other reading, perhaps 50%."
"I have the sneaking suspicion that sales of ebooks vs. hard copies is twofold: 1) average age of your target market, and 2) the genre in which you write. Speaking for myself, I've learned the new technology and get a few books a year on my Nook. But I'll be more prone to certain genres if I do buy the e-version.
Literary novels, for instance, just don't seem to fit the fast paced world of the ebook; I will definitely buy a hard copy. Same with historical or high fantasy novels - the length and depth of those books almost requires the ability to take your time, and a physical copy in your hands.
'Faster' genres, like sci-fi, romances, and especially YA are probably the overall better sellers in ebooks, I suspect. Younger people read them, and they are great formats and pace for the ebook. Just my two cents."
"Thanks for posting this, Mona! Angela Hoy's dad andI live in the same world. He's the kind of reader I write for. Plus, thanks for yet another good site to follow."
Rick Bylina said,
"But are the 75% also readers? My brother doesn't have a computer. Has no need for an ebook reader. The only thing he's read since high school has been the TV Guide and the horse race rags. He's irrelevant for any marketing strategy or any survey about e-readers.
Maybe it's part genre; maybe it's part the age of the people surrounding you. As someone already said, us old farts are not necessarily interested in a new technology every year (or six months)."
Paul Pekin said,
"Just talked to my sister who was given a Kindle last Christmas (by a granddaughter). "How's that thing working?" I ask. "Haven't used it yet," she says. And she's a smart woman who reads more books than I do (but not the same kind) So here's my theory, older people get tired of learning a new technology every other year. But I have been thinking of a tablet, or something along that line, since my eyes are steadily getting worse. I've checked e-readers in the stores and they don't do it for me, the screen is too small. Yes, you can increase the size of the font, but really, who wants to read 18 point type in a six by nine page (guessing here on page size)? mostly, though, the time and effort spent learning new technology seems better spent reading and writing. If you only publish by ebook, obviously you will not reach readers who do not own a device. You can cross them off."Jamie Wilson said,
"E-readers don't cover the entire ebook market. A lot of teens and young adults are reading books on their smartphones, and I confess I do the same in a pinch.
Lots of older people are reading from full-size tablet computers, and others use Kindle or other ereader applications to simply read from the computer.
In addition, the growth of ebooks has been nothing short of volcanic. Ten years ago they held a tiny fraction of the market; today they are the fastest-growing segment. The 22% sales cited in the article is nothing short of incredible, when you look at how long they've really been round.
Also, if you look at royalties, each ebook reader is worth more to an individual writer than a paper book reader, with the exception of readers who buy hardbacks. And ebook readers tend to buy more books because of the lower prices and ease of purchase.
I would love to see a serious study done on this, dividing books into separate genres. My suspicion, especially as I watch bookstores change to reflect the market, is that increasingly physical book sales are in the children's market, and that adult book sales are moving more toward ebooks, with the biggest migration to ebooks being the young adult market. I agree that one should not discount the power of paper books, and I don't think they will ever go away, but they are diminishing in importance."
Peter Bernhardt said,
"Initial sales of my first novel in soft cover through book parties to friends and acquaintances, giving presentations at book clubs, opera club, German-American Society, plus through a few retail outlet displays, folks I come in contact with (several physicians I've seen have purchased the book): about 200. All of my sales since then have been on Kindle, averaging between 10 to 20 a month without any promotion, except for one day in November of book of the day, which resulted in 150 Kindle sales.
Total sales of ebooks since I put it on Kindle in September 2010: about 425. Plus there were about 1,400 free downloads when I put it on the KDP Select one day free promotion. Not sure what good the free download promotion did. This article notwithstanding, as far as I'm concerned, ebook sales is where it's at, not only as to number of sales but also as to royalty percentage.
Still, to accommodate those readers of my first novel who still prefer paper, I will publish my second novel both on Kindle and as a soft cover through Create Space. As for old geezers not wanting to learn new technology - there ain't nothing to learn as far as how to use a Kindle unless you cant figure out how to plug it in and turn it on. Anyone that afraid of nothing is probably not the kind of reader I want to read my books anyway." :-) Peter Bernhardt, Author: The Stasi File , Quarter Finalist 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award; Amazon Kindle, Sequel: Kiss of the Shaman's Daughter .