More Thoughts on the Supposed Decline of e-books

Jane Friedman, founder and co-editor of The Hot Sheet and columnist for PW, has updated her post about what has become a mainstream media outlet truism: that print book sales are rising and e-book sales are declining. RF has posted on this topic before, but it never hurts to attack fraudulent news, even (or perhaps especially) when the fake is perpetuated by some normally reliable sources.

Friedman says "Most of it is wishful thinking rather than an understanding of what’s actually happening."

RF knows that to be in true in libraries: our digital use continues to rise, while print generally remains flat or declines.

To summarize her points (but better still, do read them):

  • To the extent that any e-book decline is real, it is apparent only in traditional publishing and is largely due to agency pricing
  • To the extent that print is back, thank Amazon and not other or Indie marketers.
  •  The majority of the e-book sales have moved to "non-traditional" publishers
  • While frequently quoted stats suggest e-books make up 25% of print sales, the number is likely closer to 50% of fiction sales.

In short, "Carry a big dose of skepticism, and look at possible underlying agendas, when you hear celebrations about print’s comeback. While I’m not at proclaiming the death of print or traditional publishers, few media outlets have an understanding of the big picture." (Friedman)

Readers want their format of choice delivered in the most convenient way. For some, print may always be their primary, or only, choice. We at RF love ALL forms of reading. But don't let suspicious figures take away from the increasing importance of digital content, especially in libraries, where it is more vital than ever.