E-Books Pull Ahead of Hardcovers

Time Magazine recently released numbers that reveal e-book sales in January outpaced hardcover sales for the first time in history. This is no major shock to anyone who’s not been in a coma for the past two years, nonetheless, it’s a little weird to see the pecking order of best selling book formats rearranged for the first time since the advent of paperback publishing.

As of January, 2011:

  1. Paperback
  2. E-book
  3. Hardcover

The obvious trend toward digital book consumption barrels onward. As a result, the counter trend I’ve been predicting for the past year is coming ever closer to reality: demand for a more sensually immersive reading experience than digital can provide. Specifically; the texture, weight, smell and prestige of custom, hand-made, leather bound books.

No longer is the hardcover book second only to paperback in distribution, it’s third. Furthermore, the experiential gap between consuming a hardcover book and the digital format which ousted it is larger than that between it and its former forerunner, the paperback. As the whole world continues to get swept away in the digital consumption tidal wave, a hungry few will emerge demanding more. They’ll be the most avid of readers; impassioned loyalists of literary genres; super-fans of specific authors, and they’ll want a prouder, more nostalgic, more substantive reading experience than a scrolling list of titles on a digital toy.

I may or may not be able to bring my on-demand leather binding business idea to life, but it’s an inevitable outgrowth of the digital trend. Those who recognize and act on it will be handsomely rewarded.

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2 Responses to E-Books Pull Ahead of Hardcovers

  1. printpasteplay says:

    Please don’t borrow any money to fund that idea lol. Me personally I love the e-book format happy to see it excelling. It may not be for everyone but for me the former owner of about 80 or so paper and hardback books that got destroyed in hurricane Katrina, it about being TACTICAL with my money buy hardbacks and lose them in the next storm or buy digital and re-download to my new computer.

    • jkurth says:

      In fact, I agree with you on all counts!

      I don’t want to dilute ownership in the business by taking on outside investment, and I sure as hell don’t want to mess with debt. I believe pretty strongly in bootstrapping and being completely customer funded.

      Also, I’m a huge fan of digital book distribution. The incremental cost of delivering each copy is practically zero (to both the publisher and the environment), the content’s available almost anywhere, and it can eliminate the lengthy distance between author and audience. E-books are exploding for lots of good reasons, and as the market gets saturated, it will be the most passionate, avid readers who demand luxury versions of their favorites.

      Thanks for reading!

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