Is the centuries-old publishing business going to disappear for good? Probably not… But the latest survey shows that certainly a new era of e-book dominance has begun. And all this is because of fascination with digital tablets which are a main driver of a fundamental change in how Americans and also other nations read books. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, e-book reading is growing at unexpectedly fast rate.
eBooks’ appealing magic
The survey shows that the share of Americans age 16 and older who read e-books climbed to about 23 percent from nearly 16 percent a year ago. In addition, the number of people who read printed books decreased to approximately 67 percent from roughly 72 percent in 2011.
Researchers are convinced that the spectacular change in reading habits was introduced by the growing popularity of tablets and e-reader devices. Not unexpectedly, the findings of the survey indicate that e-book readers are also owners of an e-reading device such as a tablet computer or e-reader. Approximately one-third of Americans ages 16 and older own at least one of the aforementioned devices.
The findings of the survey also indicate that there are three main groups of e-book readers:
- People with college and graduate degrees
- People living in households earning over $75,000
- People in age range from 30 and 49
Even though the number of people aware that libraries offer e-books grew to approximately 31 percent from roughly 24 percent in 2011, libraries might be in trouble as the share of people borrowing e-books from them only increased to 5 percent from just 3 percent a year ago.
With the increasing popularity of tablets, including the Apple Inc.’s iPad, people want to have them and use them. Other companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. also try to take advantage of growing demand for e-book devices, thereby introducing their own products. And to have their own piece of pie, they launched lower-priced products including the Google Nexus Tablet and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Certainly the introduction of less costly e-book devices had a significant impact on the growth of e-book readers. According to IDC, a technology research firm, projected that tablet sales would grow to over 122 million in 2012.
Future of printed books
One may ask: “So does it mean that printed books are going to fade away?” Certainly printed books will not disappear as they are better gifts than e-books, that is for sure. But everything indicates that these days we are witnessing some kind of revolution which is taking us into the future world of e/books. Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, underlined the significance of the ongoing revolutionary change in the book environment, adding that the shift would also introduce a social transition as well.
But the visible change in the book experience also has an impact on the economics of book publishing businesses. For example, Barnes & Noble Inc., a U.S. book retailer, is struggling to adjust to the new digital world. Bertelsmann SE & Co. and Pearson Plc have been negotiating on a merger of their publishing divisions as they believe that the merged entity would have a better chance to cope with all challenges of the contemporary world.
Currently publishers are facing many problems as they are trying to adapt to new conditions. The transition is not that simple as e-book sales are dominated by Amazon.com Inc. This change in the world of books cannot be stopped, yet many companies need to learn how to play the new game. And even though it is certain that one day e-books will become dominant, printed books will surely not disappear. At least some hope so.