According to a story on TechCrunch we’ve reached the tipping point.
Hardcover revenues did go up, but it was only a 2.7% change while ebooks had a 28.1% rise.
While the “ebooks have arrived!” news is the big thing, look at the paperback book numbers — down almost the same percentage as ebooks went up. I think most people like the look of a row of hardcovers sitting on their shelves — paperbacks not so much. Paperbacks are more of a “read it then toss it” kind of thing. So why bother with paper when you can just go digital?
There are people who say, “Physical books will never go away.” and they’re right – the same way that horse and buggies never went away. But those are a little tiny niche that don’t mean anything to the vast majority of people today.
I think physical books will go the same way — and I think it will happen very quickly. Within 10 years for sure and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened in the next 5 years.
Watch for these things to happen:
- One of the Big Six publishers will stop releasing paperbacks. Just hardcover and digital.
- At some point soon after that, one of those same publishers will release digital and a “limited number” of hardcovers. A “limited edition” of a new John Grisham book? Yeah, and they’ll double the typical price and sell out to the people who want to be special — as opposed to the people who want to read the book.
- Soon after, only some books will even see a hardcover edition at all.
Sure, I could be wrong. But I don’t think I am. 🙂