Recently I attended a four-day festival/flea market. The event was a forty-five minute drive from my home and I had to be on site at 7am. Needless to say I am not a person who rises before the sun. Oh yeah, I already told you that in a blog a few weeks ago. Well let me say it again: I do not get up before 7 in the morning unless absolutely necessary.
Watching people at these events is very entertaining and educational too. I have found that I am probably one of the last few people in the United States to not own an e-reader. As people meandered by my booth this weekend they would gaze at my books as if they were foreign objects or something extinct like dinosaurs that once roamed the earth.
Why? Because an actual print book is becoming quenched out by electronic readers! These hard cased, cold monsters are taking over like a Kudzu vine strangling out every thing in its path. Two and a half years ago when I started attending festivals to promote my first novel, Guardian Spirit, 3 - 4 % of the people in the good ole USA owned an e-reader. Now statistics say that a wholloping 33% of all people own some kind of device – whether it be a tablet, e-reader or both – for e-reading.
While researching for this blog I found that sales of such reading devices doubled from November 2011 to November 2012. I couldn’t find any stats for December 2012 holiday sales but the experts said they were expecting the percentages to rise even higher than the 33% mark. One in every three people owns some kind of electronic reading device!
What does this do to authors like me who are trying to sell their print books to make a buck? It kills us. Who in their right mind is going to pay the cover price of $14.99 when they can down load the same thing on their e-reader for $5.99, or less? Who can blame them?
I didn’t have to read any of the stats to know what was happening. Less than three years ago people would swarm to my booth and pick up a copy of my work and lovingly touch the cover and flip through the pages fanning the smell of ink into their souls. Now I have to literary leer them in with my wily ways. I did a survey while talking with folks this weekend. The first question I asked was, “Do you enjoy reading?” Then I asked, “Do you have a Kindle or Nook?” I’m not kidding, at least three-fourths of everyone I talked to reads books electronically.
Thank goodness for the few people who loves the feel of an old-fashioned paper, or hard cover book in their hands. Some of us still live to turn down the corner of a page to mark our place.
I’m not going to say I’ll never own an e-reader, because I’m old enough to know I should never say never. But I can promise you one thing. I can honestly say that I can’t imagine not holding a paper book in my hand. And, I don’t have to worry about the battery running low, or spend time looking for an outlet to plug my words in. With a paperback I don’t have to agonize about possibly dropping it, shattering the glass screen. And, if my paper book gets wet while I’m lounging by the pool, then I’ll just set it in the sun and my book will be good as new in no time. Maybe a bit wrinkled, but who cares?
Books are as much a part of me as wearing clothes, but times are a-changing. We must adapt or be left behind. So authors, here’s my advice: When partnering with a publishing company beware of buying hundreds of copies of your printed book. People are just not buying hard copies anymore. Man the lifeboats, the presses are a-sinking.