Ebook Popularity

This is interesting!

Thanks for sharing. That was a very interesting read.


Great article! I agree with what the article says about millennials wanting everything in print being wrong. I only read print when I get something from the library, but I buy ebooks almost exclusively and I can’t be the only one. If there is another ebook boom I wouldn’t be surprised if the big publishers fumbled it. On the bright side, another ebook boom would create more opportunities for indies.

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I happen to agree. I only publish in ebook. However, as to the statement:

For example, one myth that just crossed my desk was the idea that younger readers preferred print books over ebooks.

Alas, like many myths, there is little to back it up.

There was a thread on wattpad that asked the “younger readers” here that exact question. The answer was overwhelmingly that they read print books. I mean like over 90%.

I’d be interested to see that thread. It’s a good question. But I suspect the answer may depend a lot on just how young the “younger reader” is. There are a lot of 13-17 year-olds on WP, and their answer may differ a lot from that of the 18-25 year-olds, which is the youngest age cohort the article mentions. Both groups would probably answer to “younger readers”.

The ebooks.com chart referenced in the article is not surprising. Many other published stats show the same. It’s kind of intuitive that the cohorts that are most comfortable with handhelds and have money to spend would buy ebooks. It’s unfortunate that almost all the published stats report cohorts starting at 18-25, as though the entire massive “YA” reader category did not exist. That might be because the stats are harder to come by, but might also be wishful bias. Most of the stats are produced by promoters of ebooks who may not want to show a statistic that isn’t ‘on-message’,

Neilsen Book Research (yes, definitely trad industry-biased) showed that 50% of book sales were ebooks, but only 4% in the “children’s” cohort, however they define that. In industry surveys on the topic, three reasons come up repeatedly:

  1. Young readers like to hold print books (there’s a tactile aspect that is more appealing)
  2. Young readers find tablets and phones distracting. They like them for video and social media, but they dislike the distraction while reading.
  3. The buyers, who are often not the young readers themselves, notice that the ebook format of trad books are often more expensive than the print format. This is likely a trad industry tactic. It doesn’t take too many examples for people to learn the ‘rule’ and simply not bother to check ebook stores, but buy a print book in a shop.

An oft-repeated observation that “kids don’t have credit cards” may be less important than people think (I remember seeing one study on that, but have lost track of it). Many parents buy apps for kids or let them buy within a budget. May kids have e-cash accounts. But neither they nor their parents will buy a $12.99 ebook when the same book is in the local bookstore for $5.99

Buy? Yes. Print books tend to be more expensive. Read? Eh… kinda a tossup. Kindle means I can have hundreds of books in one place, which is a pro, and I already mentioned it being more affordable, but I find it easier to read print books. Idk. I get a lot of my print books secondhand - so again comes the affordable angle. Goodwill and book sales and such.