On Friday, Publishers Weekly had an article reporting that e-book sales were down 16 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year. Two of the main reasons listed for the decline were:
• An increase in e-book prices.
• The increasing use by book buyers of tablets and smartphones to read e-books and the decline in use of dedicated e-book readers. Apparently, those with dedicated readers have traditionally bought more e-books than those who read on other devices.
Both reasons made me examine my own book-buying and book-reading habits. The increase in e-book prices hit home because of something that happened last week. I learned of a new book called Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. Since I make my living by writing and editing in a variety of areas, I was quite curious what this book would have to say. (And you can expect a review once I’ve read it!) The Kindle version cost $11.99 on Amazon, but the paperback book cost just $11.68. No way would I pay more for the e-book than the paperback book, and I have a feeling many budget-conscious readers feel the same way. E-book prices are going to have to remain competitive if e-book sellers want to turn a profit. (Interestingly, I checked my Amazon account to be sure I was accurate about the price I paid, and the paperback version of Scratch is now selling for $12.01, two cents more than the Kindle version.)
I also thought about how and where I read. I do read plenty of hardbook books and paperback books, but since I’ve been out of shelf space since about the late nineties, I’m much more inclined to purchase e-books these days. I have a Kindle, an iPad, and an iPhone, and I’ve read books—or at least portions of books—on all three devices. I haven’t read a complete book on my iPhone, but a few occasions of extreme boredom last year (you know, you end up waiting to meet someone and find you’re without any reading material whatsoever) sent me digging in my purse for something, anything, to read. It’s comforting to know that thanks to the Kindle app on the iPhone, my digital library is never far away. And just because e-book sales are down, I don’t imagine that means they’re going away anytime soon.
Do you read e-books or print books? Do you have a preference? Does price matter? I’d love to hear your thoughts!