GUEST POST: How Are You Reading? by Olivia Lennox

Olivia Lennox

How Are You Reading?


You must have been traveling in outer space if you don’t know about the changes in reading books across the globe during 2011. Even then, you probably read about it on your tablet computer if you could pick up a good Wi-Fi signal. The way people read has been steadily altering the last few years, but in 2011 reading really changed hands. What does this hold for 2012 and onwards?

2011 was the year the Kindle took over. For every person that purchased from Barnes & Noble or Sony, many more went online to Amazon and ordered the latest ebook reader. At the start of the 2011, 5% of all book sales were in digital format. By October, Amazon claimed to be selling 143 ebooks for every 100 print copies. With a further 5 million new Kindle and Kindle Fire purchases in the six weeks before Christmas, that ratio is surely altering even faster.

From May 2010 to April 2011 ebook sales had risen 146%. Once the 2011-2012 figures are in you can expect the increase to be closer to 500%.

Books Haven’t Died – Yet

The old way of reading a book isn’t on its way out, but the number of times you will buy a book in print form, in the future, will reduce considerably. Even if you do not own a Kindle yet (many real book readers were the first to buy Kindles) the chances of a purchase in the next year or so are much higher since Amazon introduced the lend-a-book facility. That means if your wife bought a copy, you can borrow it for a short time with no further charge – just like you would have done with your paperback purchase.

As a result, book stores are closing on every main street. You have to wonder how long the independent book stores can continue if they don’t sell thousands of children’s books, which is the only print book market that still has traction. The rent for a bookstore and the non-availability of discounts to match the online retailers prevents any real growth.

If you read a book from cover to cover, and delight in looking over the copyright page and seeing if you agree with the short reviews of the author’s other books, then an ebook just won’t feel the same. The trend is for those pages to be skipped on ebook readers and tablet computers.

Authors Can Go It Alone

With the six main publishers almost refusing to take on new writers as it’s easier to maintain print sales with top line authors, novelists are self publishing as advance payments from publishers have almost disappeared. Many authors believe it’s better to take 70% of a $3 sale than spend two years searching for an agent/publisher to get a dollar a copy at most from paperback sales.

Wal-Mart and Kmart and similar chains sold paperbacks for $8 when the local independent still needed to ask $15. Amazon and its similar competitors also sought to bring down the cost of books which is why a quarter of the planet bought its books online in 2011.

Downloaded the App?

All the main ebook suppliers have developed applications for tablet and laptop computers and almost every variety of smart phone. If Android is your thing, then there will be an app out there for you now. The readability of a book on the smallest of screens isn’t great, but it shows how the market is moving. After all, you didn’t expect to play computer games on 3 inch screens ten years ago.

Color is the New Black

As the public buys more and more newspapers and magazines to read on their mobile devices, the need for color is increasing to enhance the user’s experience. Books may become more interactive for the reader.

What else for 2012?

In 2012, it’s doubtful that you will be reading the latest novel on your internet driven 52 inch television screen, but the possibilities are there with downloads becoming a feature for television and internet based screens. Whether you’re looking at an ebook reader or watching your book on TV, you’ll still be sitting on the best reading couch you can find to indulge your favorite passion.

There is also talk of giving books various different endings so the reader can choose which route to follow. Whatever next?