Do E-READERS stifle sales?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Kudos, to a very intelligent commentator who left the following in another post of mine and got me thinking. First, please visit Frances blog as her title is very misleading and it’s an excellent blog.

http://wp.me/210UR

You came back! Welcome, now let’s see that comment…

“Kindles has this effect as well. Unlike a physical book one is less likely to strike up a conversation about a current read of another without a glimpse of the book cover.”

I got to thinking? I remember many conversations or Authors discovered by glancing at the dust-jackets of someone else’s book and seeing the reader so intent on the contents, that I absolutely had to check the author out.

I’ve also had many holiday conversations round the pool or on flights where the main topic of conversation is what I’m reading and what my social conversation partner is reading.

In fact, I have a little ritual before I go on holiday where I’ll stop in the bookshop in the departure lounge and buy five or six books that I’ve heard of or seen people reading.  With the rise of the e-reader (I love my kindle) will I now miss out on that? Will I be downloading them to my Kindle instead and will I now rely on the “Reviews” on Amazon to see whats hot and whats er, not?

“23% of Americans ages 16 and older read an e-book in the past year, up
from 16% the year before. The share who read a print book declined to
67%, from 72%”
Thanks to the Pew Internet Project – see the original doc.
 So print is in decline? I didn’t need the above to tell me that…. I see far fewer people reading in hard-copy but that’s great isn’t it? More opportunity for the self-published route…
Well, Yes and No. There’s too many posts to comment on the “Amazon” sales ranking stuff and the KDP Select debate runs on and on. I can’t help thinking that whilst the rise of e-readers is good, it has lost us the opportunity to market our work via the good old-fashioned see someone else reading route.
On a hard-copy book, Authors have their name and beautiful cover art as an instant advertisement. Whilst the old saying of never judge a book by a cover still rings true, at least when the cover was visible it caused interest and got your name out there. How many times have you asked someone what they’re reading on a tablet?
So, whilst the rise of the e-reader and no-one being able to see what your reading may have helped the erotica market by getting rid of the embarrassment, does it stifle an area of Sales for the rest of us?
Have you ever picked up a book abandoned by someone and read it cover to cover,  discovering a new author?  Once discovered, you can’t help buy just about everything they’ve ever written.  Personally, I’ve done this six or seven times finding one of my favorite authors Robin Hobb via this route.
If I picked up a tablet abandoned by someone I am more likely to hand it to lost and found than read anything on it and I still don’t understand how the lending stuff works, which is the somewhat confusing attempt by Amazon to fix this.
So what do you think?

14 thoughts on “Do E-READERS stifle sales?

  1. I held off on getting a Kindle because, as a former Barnes & Noble employee and lover of physical books, I just couldn’t “betray” my old school beliefs. I received a Kindle for Christmas a year ago and I absolutely love it. I couldn’t imagine my reading life without it now. Travel is so much easier. No longer do I need a carry-on full of books and other reading materials. My Kindle slides very nicely into my handbag. And if I did want to read something horrendously trashy that I preferred not to get comments or stares on, no one needs to know what’s on my Kindle. I think it’s wonderful that more people are reading, since reading can now be done with the wonders of technology but it’s sad that physical bookstores seem to suffer as e-purchasing can be done from the confines of home.

    That said, I still love physical books. I love holding them, the smell of freshly printed pages and the feeling of a new book spine breaking in. I love wandering the aisles of bookstores to see what’s new and what catches my eye. I miss the casual conversation of an author’s newest book, cover art and what to recommend that happened in bookstores before e-books. It’s hard to strike up a conversation with someone reading an e-book without seeming nosy in comparison.

    Great post and great topic!

    • Hi Lori, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Reading in general is in decline. BOO. And cheap or free e-books are downloaded 10 a penny with the majority around 60% never being read by anyone. I love my kindle too. But I can’t help but wonder if the ebook route that has given so much, has also lost something along the way.

      • I definitely think that with the improvement of technology, something has been lost along the way.

        If nothing else, I mourn the death of the brick and mortar bookstore. It started with the superstore (Barnes & Noble; Borders, etc.) but with Amazon and now e-books, it’s really coming home to roost. I have always said my dream career would be to own a little bookshop and be writing in my spare time. An impossibility nowadays, between the economy and the “I want it now” mentality we seem to have.

        I do worry that these technological advances mean career death for some people and unemployment for others. But maybe I am just a worrywart!

  2. Well written and thought-out post. I am resisting the e-reader as a) i like the feel of a book and b) i have so many in my “to read” pile, i have to get through that before i buy any more, digital or analogue.
    you make a good point about books left around – ive left them on trains and buses before, and picked them up this way. or swapped with the shelf in a holiday cottage or hostel. that won’t happen with these new fangled machines. And i buy alot of my books from the sell off shelves of my local libraries where i pick up anything that looks interesting – fiction, nonfiction, adult, childrens, romance, thriller, poetry, modern, classic… anything. I can’t see that i would ever browse a selection that random online.

    • Hi RG, I am a Kindlophile myself and I do read a lot on it. However my choice and breadth of reading tends to be restricted to the reviews or the first few pages of ranking. I never trust the “others bought” bit, either. Plus alot of the cover art is not as good as the print stuff. Thanks for commenting.

      • do you find browsing online just isnt the same as browsing in a shop thought? The “other people also bought” or “you also might like” concepts only work so far and tend to direct you towards simliar books. You cant beat walking past a shelf and your attention being caught, adn you can’t get that from a website i think

      • Hi RG, I definitely preferring browsing in person when it comes to books. It’s nice to be able to look online – – especially if you’re trying to find books by a certain author or are even browsing on a particular subject – – but it’s just not the same. I think online searching works most effectively if you know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s quick and dirty. But for a nice, pleasant pasttime – – give me the aisles!

  3. I don’t know, I’d say I read roughly four times as much now that I read mainly e-books (I have an iPad which is also my main computer for everything except writing). I think this is because I can’t turn on the bedside light to read while I’m waiting for my youngest to fall asleep at night, but I can dim the iPad screen and get in 20 or 30 pages a night that way instead without bothering him (he likes to cuddle 🙂 ) Besides the convenience of not carrying dozens of books around, I like that if I hear about a book from a friend or a review, I can get it instantly – no driving to the book store or library! I’m also fortunate that my library has an e-book lending program, and I LOVE the ‘other customers also purchased’ feature most online booksellers have because it turns me onto authors that are new to me. More and more I find if I’m browsing an actual bookstore I have no idea where to start, especially since most of the books are spine-out and you can’t see the covers anyway. That said, I still love physical books for cooking, canning and knitting because I’m a notes-in-the-margin person when it comes to those things and I don’t like the note-making abilities on the iPad.

    • Thanks Nicole, I appreciate the comment and it’s great to see you reading more with an e-reader. I’m a notes in the margin person too. Although now that’s mainly because I’m looking at sentence construction and structure… LOL

  4. I agree to an extent, but I would counter with the enhanced opportunities for social sharing offered by digital print. As one door closes, another one opens. While a stranger on a train seeing someone reading your book is obviously an opportunity to generate a wider audience, it’s a very hit-and-miss affair. With digital, readers can instantly spread the word to like-minded friends, fans and networks, offering a far more targeted market for authors. We need to let some of the old ways (shoot me if I ever use the word ‘paradigm’!) slip gracefully away and start to think differently. Although, until someone creates an eReader that smells of fresh paper, I’m still sticking to physical books 🙂

  5. Hi JFC, I agree there a lot of positives to the E-Reader, I worry though with the saturation of spam marketing being generated by authors who choose the self-publishing route the message is somehow getting lost? Thanks for commenting.

  6. I read loads more books now than I ever did before I bought my kindle. I also have a waiting list on my TBR pile of about thirty books. I wouldn’t buy this many physical books, I don’t have anywhere to put them for a start!

    I also read a lot of self-published books that I wouldn’t have found were it not for the e-reader. A blessing for me 🙂

    • There are a lot of positives to the process and I love my Kindle. It is ready beside the bed right now to get picked up. My house will one day collapse from the weight of all the paperbacks in boxes in the roof, now that I have the Kindle I won’t have that problem. I still dream of having a house big enough to have my own library. It’s white and there are layer after layer of glorious paperbacks. Hey, a girl can dream.

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