Has the e-book conquered the reading world? It may seem like a silly question in this day and age. After all,the Kindle has been around for years now. Many competing e-readers are out there and everyone is reading e-books. Right? Wrong. The majority of books in circulation are still printed. That includes countries like the USA.
Why is this still the case? Estimates are that e-readers in the USA account for about 30% of the books in circulation. It is growing though while print may be in decline. At least print seems to be flat right now, but consider this.
A decade ago people said the vinyl LP was dead. Long live CD. Then the MP3 was going to kill off CD's. Did anyone born after 1997 know what vinyl LP looked like a couple of years ago? Now they do. Turns out my parents were wise not to throw out their old Akai LP turntable. Vinyl is back and growing fast. Even my teenage son has asked for Greenday's latest record in vinyl.
I see a parallel with e-books. While I prefer to indie publish in e-book format, I still love print books. So print on demand remains a good option for indie publishers. Yes I do most of my reading on a Kindle since it is so easy to find new books. The convenience is fantastic. But I love browsing the book store. Especially the second hand bookstores. It is like flipping through the LPs at the music store. A treasure hunt for us nerdy readers!
What about perceptions? When I tell folks about my latest book being published they are happy, but when I put a print version in their hands it is WOW. You cannot beat that real book in your hands. It is like all things digital. Nice and convenient, but not as cool as holding the LP, book or even the photos in print form. Old school engages more senses and that is the difference.
Will I stop publishing in e-book format? No. The trend will simply broaden to cover digital and retro markets. Choice is what counts and people are looking for choice above all else. How to be an individual in the digital world. Retro is cool, but it must work and be reliable. Digital is an option that must be available when required. This means we writers need to cover more bases. Did I mention audio-books? That is also growing.
So do not be surprised if the Millenials start insisting that their books be in print format. After all when the books have been read they can use them to support their turntables and prop up their LPs.