Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paperback or E-book, Which is More Popular? The Results of a Survey and the role of Pricing

On the blog Selling Books there is a post today about a recent CNN survey examining which version of a book is more popular, paperback or an e-book. The survey, an on-line and unscientific study, found people prefer paperbacks to e-books by a margin of 80% to 20%. Yet an earlier report by CNN contained information indicating e-book sales had surpassed paperback sales are were still rising. 

Neither the blog posting or the CNN articles referenced had an explanation for either result, the preference for paperbacks over e-books and the fact e-book sales are out pacing paperback sales. I have an idea of how both results are factual and easily understandable.

I like my Kindle reader. My wife loves her Nook. Yet both of us prefer traditional paper books. I write in mine, make notes, highlight and otherwise mark-up my paper books. I use them as references constantly. I mainly read non-fiction. My wife just likes to hold books while she reads them. She reads fiction.

Why do we both like our e-book readers? Two simple reasons. As a history teacher I can carry hundreds of books around in a small device that weights at most one pound while my wife likes the lack of clutter produced by books laying around the house. Both of us really like the fact e-books stretches our limited budget for new books much further than if we continued to purchase mainly paperback books.

Of the two reasons, price is the overriding factor for both of us. Given the state of the nation's economy and the need to either be entertained for a period of time or the need to find information, the lower cost of an e-book is a major factor, I think, in the rapid rise in e-book sales. I am sure there are other factors, but cost has to be the driving issues.

What does this mean for self-publishing authors? Quite simply, don't abandon your POD service, in my case CreateSpace, and you better be offering e-book versions of your titles as well as paperback. It also means as the publisher and author, careful consideration must be given in how you price both versions of your book.