Today, I saw an interesting article on GalleyCat on how Mass Market paperback sales plunged in January. Hardcover sales dropped as well. And ebook sales “grew dramatically”. It made me think of how my reading habits–not only purchasing habits–have changed since I got my Nook.
We are contemplating moving to a smaller place, and in anticipation of that, we are decluttering. As a first step, I cleaned out my bookshelves. I now have about 15 plastic grocery bags filled with both fiction and nonfiction books, destined for either the used bookstore, the library, or the veterans, depending on who wants them.
I’ve cleaned out my bookshelf before. This time, I was brutal. Why? Because many books I had formerly designated as “keepers” are no longer so. Not because I never want to read them again. Because when I do want to re-read them, I’ll re-buy them for my Nook. Which equals a nice cha-ching for the author, assuming the books in question are available digitally. (For that reason, I kept all my Harry Potters.)
This is doubly true for classics. I kept many of my classics–especially ones I think my daughter will read one day–but I got rid of just as many, and I never got rid of my classics before. Why keep them when I can download them for free from Project Gutenberg?
I am not in a complete ebook paradise, however. Recently, I finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I went online, intending to buy digital copies of the next two books. Unfortunately, the ebook price is the same as the paperback. I find this perplexing. An ebook should be cheaper. Why? Because I don’t have all the rights with an ebook that I do with a regular book. The ebook is going to be encumbered with all this DRM, and it is going to be illegal for me to give it away. I was reluctant to pay the paperback price without having a paperback in hand, so I went to my local Borders and bought the next two books at a steep store-closing discount. I would have much preferred to buy it digitally, but I think in exchange for not having the rights that I have with the physical copy, I ought to get a decent discount. Pricing it the same as the paperback just annoys me.
But that seems to be the future of ebooks as more and more publishers are moving to what’s called Agency pricing. That’s where the publisher can set the price. This, I think, is only going to slow down the growth of ebooks. Is this the intention? I don’t know. Some publishers just seem to be fighting the inevitable. The public loves ebooks. They want ebooks. And I don’t think these artificial pricing structures are going to hold up. I’m just glad I was able to buy Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy before his publisher instituted Agency pricing.
Have you tried ebooks yet? I love reading on both my Nook and my iPod Touch. My Touch, especially is nice to read at night when my husband is trying to sleep. (And I still love that iFlow app!) If you have not tried ebooks yet, do you think you ever will? Are you just waiting for the readers to become really cheap (we’re getting there!) or do you just think you’ll always prefer real books?