walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

People Who Buy eBooks Still Buy pBooks: the analysis

See the previous post if you want my numbers and some detail for the year.

The most striking thing about my e-purchases vs p-purchases is the number of items, and the number of p-purchases which were used items (and thus no money to the publisher/author, except indirectly if the original purchaser, by getting back some of their money through the sale of a book, goes out and buys a new book.

This pattern of p-purchases is the result of a conscious strategy I adopted almost immediately after getting my first e-reader: I decided to try to buy everything I wanted in e-form, and if that failed, to at least buy it used if at all possible. I delayed many purchases for months, when I believed that the item would eventually become available in e-form, as in the first year of the kindle, a lot of newly published books weren't available in e-form and not as a result of windowing.

When windowing was (briefly) attempted by publishers, I delayed purchase until the e-form was available. In many of those cases, I never bought the e-form, because by that point, the cluster of reviews available suggested it wasn't worth it. In a couple cases, I got the book from the library -- and wasn't very impressed. It turns out that it is hard for a book to overcome a pissed off reader's negativity -- at least this pissed off reader's negativity.

I was more than a little surprised to notice just how few children's books I bought in 2012 [I have since remembered 3 more bought while we were at the Cape]. I had, in the past, bought many, many, many children's books. I do buy the kids book-apps in the apple and kindle ecosystems, and they went to the library with me a few times in 2012. They went to the library a lot more often through their schools, and get a lot of book exposure that way. Plus, huge backlog of books around here for them, and books other people gave them as gifts.

While in the past, a lot of my used purchases have been general non-fiction from previous years not yet converted (or never expected to convert) to e-form. This time, there was a great deal more focus in these purchases (exceptions included the moral panics book, _Escape from Hunger_, 7-11 in Japan, and the two books about aging/long term care) -- almost all of the non-fiction was driven by genealogical research or questions about history which arose in that context.

While the e-book sales continue to grow, the percentage growth rate is less now than it has been in the past. Anyone who takes comfort in this reveals their innumeracy, as it the absolute increase in items sold may well be larger now than ever before (34% of a bigger number may be greater than 110% of a smaller number).

Finally, taking comfort in the idea that there are plenty of people out there who haven't read an e-book in the past year vs. virtually no one who reads e-books so exclusively that they don't also buy an read p-books may fail to capture the used vs. new distinction. While a retailer who sells new and used books may not care whether the volume they sell is used or new (they might prefer used, if it's something like Hiebert's book about CGCM!), a publisher presumably does.

A publisher's best bet for getting me to spend money on p-books at this point is to convince me to buy p-books as gifts for young children. Failing that, producing picture books of interest to me. A publisher who only saw my new-pbook purchases, btw, would still consider me a comparatively heavy book buyer, and might argue that I am evidence that print is not yet dead.
Tags: e-book coverage, our future economy today
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