A recent New York Times story talked about how print books are on the rebound, while digital books are on a sudden decline. eBook sales sharply decreased this year, while print books remain steady. Even more so, bookstores are seeing profits and sales of digital readers, like Kindle, are declining.
It appears the terror over the end of print books – with their aroma, words on paper you can touch, and the stacked bookshelves that display them – maybe waning. Some people are relaxing or are relieved to know that eBooks did not take over old fashioned media, much like MP3s replaced CDs and cassettes, or Netflix is replacing TV and cable.
But based on the comments section for that NY Times article, and other comments on writers forums and blogs, many would say the article is misleading. Some argue that eBooks will not disappear anytime soon. After all, they are good for traveling and there are certain genres that are good for eBooks, such as erotica and romance. After all, one reason why eBooks were doing so well was because of the popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
Another reason why eBooks may be declining is because of how some books are priced at the same amount as print books. Another would be because some eBooks are not archived long enough on the reading devices.
I also cannot help but wonder if the decline of the eBooks has a lot to do with the backlash over self-published books. Many of them are filled with editorial mistakes such as misspelled words, grammatical errors and formatting issues. My book has this problem when I first released it, so I am just as guilty here for hurting the self-publishing/digital book movement that is now struggling. I am still seeing many blog posts and articles complaining about the editorial troubles, with some people swearing off self-published books for good.
I believe eBooks will stick around, but will not erase printed books forever. I think eBooks will be one of the many ways to enjoy a book. For now on, there will be four formats: hardcover, softcover, audio and digital. Audiobooks certainly didn’t ruin printed books, and they are still being used for various reasons. The same will go for digital books.
But in the meantime, eBooks need to look good. The eBook craze coincided with the self-publishing craze and now both are receiving a kind of backlash. In order to keep eBooks around as one of the many preferences to read a book, those who choose to release their books via the digital route need to be more professional and have a business mindset, rather than simply a creative one.