How the World Reads

Reading is a worldwide activity. That means that you can sell your books around the world.

Recently, the people at Feel Good Contact Lenses created an interesting infographic on “How the World Reads”. This infographic contains some great information for authors and publishers on which country reads the most, the types of books being purchased, and where these books are purchased. All great information when broadening your sales horizon. Check it out:

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Related Posts:
Reading Rates Remain Consistent
Selling eBooks Worldwide
Develop a Global Strategy

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Print is Still King

Printed books are not going away anytime soon. A recent study supports this statement.

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The Ricoh Americas Corporation in its new study titled “The Evolution of the Book Industry: Implications for U.S. Book Manufacturers and Printers” had some interesting findings.

The most interesting of the findings was that nearly 70% of consumers feel it is unlikely that they will give up printed books by 2016. Consumers appear to have an emotional and sensory attachment to printed books. The four top reasons consumers gave for preferring printed books were:

  1. Lack of eye strain when reading from paper copy vs. an ebook.
  2. The look and feel of paper.
  3. The ability to add it to a library or bookshelf.
  4. The ability to share/pass on to others.

In this study, students also reported they preferred print text books because reading a digital text on a PC or tablet tempted them to other distractions on these devices.

Another interesting finding in this study was that about 60% of ebooks downloaded are never read in the U.S. Since many ebooks are offered for free or on a $.99 special, this may signal that many ebook users download these books, but then often don’t get around to reading them.

Print continues to be alive and well, and may be for years to come. I know that our BookCrash bloggers who review books for Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) member publishers by and large prefer print books. Out of the last 130 requests for a book to review, only five of these requests have been for ebooks. That means only about 3% of the bloggers prefer ebooks over print books.

Yes, ebooks are growing. However, print is still the dominant medium. To glean the most sales, you should plan to continue publishing your books in both print and ebook versions for years to come.

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Reviewers and Books

Last summer, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) launched BookCrash, a book review program for our member publishers’ books. BookCrash allows bloggers to receive free books published by CSPA member publishers in exchange for a fair review of the book on their blog and on one other online retail book site such as Amazon.com.

In the first six months of operation, BookCrash had 150 bloggers sign up to review books. I decided to take the time and compile some statistics from the program to date.

One of the questions a BookCrash reviewer answers is whether they prefer a review copy of the book in ebook or print format. To date, only 13% of BookCrash’s blogger reviewers have indicated that they prefer an ebook version to a print version.

CSPA member publishers have the ability to specify whether they want to offer review copies of their books in print or ebook format, or a combination of both. Thus far, 28% of the books offered have been made available only in ebook format for review.

What I found most interesting is that, on average, the books that were offered as ebook only for review received only one-half the requests for review copies compared to those books that were offered in print or a combination of print and ebook format. The books offered in ebook only format do not differ significantly in genre from the other books offered.

Here is what this data suggests for me. All things being equal, when given a choice of a free book in print or ebook format, people prefer the print book.

The question I can’t answer is “why?” Is it because a print book still has a higher inherent value than an ebook? Is it because one can’t easily give an ebook away when done reading it? Or, is it because the majority of people still prefer to read print books?

What do you think?

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Will eBooks Kill Print Books?

There are people in the book business on both sides of the death of the print book issue. Some say that ebooks will kill the print book. Others maintain that the print book will be around for years to come.

Amazon recently reported that Kindle books have now “overtaken paperback books as the most popular format,” even as paperback sales have continued to grow. Amazon reports they are selling 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks.

While I admit that ebook sales are growing rapidly, I am a little suspicious of Amazon’s statement. Since Amazon offers millions of free public-domain titles as free Kindle downloads, I wonder whether they are counting these downloads as “sales” in their Kindle store. I question how many of those 115 Kindle books are the free public-domain titles for the Kindle and not really “money” sales.

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing house, recently stated, “I have no doubt that we are in the midst of a digital transition. It is here to stay and is proving disruptive—especially to brick-and-mortar booksellers. The only question is: How fast will the migration to digital happen? In my opinion, not as fast as the majority of my colleagues in the industry think. I do not believe that by 2014, 50% of all books sold will be digital. I believe the number will be closer to 25%. That is, in fact, the planning assumption we are using at Thomas Nelson.”

Interestingly, a recent survey found that e-reader owners are buying nearly as many print books as e-books. On average, e-reader owners in the survey planned to buy identical amounts of print and e-books: 7.2.

It appears there is no overt evidence of ebooks cannibalizing print books in the near future. I believe that a hybrid market of print and ebooks is here, and that it will persist for some years to come.

In the meantime, until the actual death of print books, publishers and self-published authors should make sure that they are offering their books in both print and digital forms to remain viable and maximize their sales.

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