Audio, Paper, E: is one of these things not like the others?
It seems obvious to me: e-books are like p-books (paperbooks). Despite how much some literati looked down on them (as they did on paperbacks, once upon a time), they are really largely the same thing…you are reading words.
Eventually, they may diverge more, as e-books become more interactive. We do see that now, to some extent. You may, for example, choose to read a more complex book as an e-book, because it is easier to look things up if you get lost. Some e-books have audio/visual content.
I was talking about Game of Thrones with a family member yesterday, and I said I could imagine a time where you could choose a particular character, and follow a set of events through their perspective. Then, Rashomon style, you could go back and follow somebody else, if you wanted, through the same events (or at least the same time frame). Yes, that seems possible to me.
Audiobooks, I would think, appeal to a different audience…so I would expect the top titles between e-books and p-books to be pretty similar, and the audiobook list to be different. That’s just my initial hypothesis. I know, of course, that e-book exclusives will change the e and p lists. Even when a book is available in both e and p, if it is published as a very inexpensive indie in e-book, I think it’s going to have a bigger impact on the e-book market than on the p-book market (where it can’t really get much distribution in the mainstream…at Amazon, indie e-books arguably are the mainstream).
Audiobooks, though…they seem relatively expensive. They require a very different interaction. For me, they engage my emotions more and my intellect less than either an e-book or a p-book.
Okay, let’s take a look at the top lists (at Amazon.com…updates hourly) and see where we have overlaps:
- The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
- The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
- Field of Prey by John Sandford
- Unlucky 13 by James Patterson
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Target by David Baldacci
- A Game of Thrones #1 (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- The Collector by Nora Roberts
- Divergent by Veronica Roth
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (#5 audiobook)
- Balancing It All by Candace Cameron Bure
- Finding Me by Michelle Knight
- The One by Kiera Cass
- Unlucky 13 by James Patterson (#4 audiobook)
- Field of Prey by John Sandford (#3 audiobook)
- Moving Day by Jonathan Stone
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- The Target by David Baldacci (#6 audiobook)
- Dragon’s Triangle by Christine Kling
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (#5 audiobook, #1 Kindle book)
- Capital by Thomas Piketty
- Finding Me by Michelle Knight (#3 Kindle book)
- Conform by Glenn Beck
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
- Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
- Frozen Little Golden Book
- The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (#8 Kindle book)
- Journey to the Ice Palace Frozen Jumbo Coloring Book by “RH Disney”
So, let’s analyze:
- The Fault in Our Stars was on all three (and was the only one that was…we may be able to guess that movies affect all three media. I would also venture to say that young adults may be more impacted by paperbooks than by e-books)
- Four books were both Kindle books and audiobooks
- Three books were both “books” and Kindle books
That means…that the audiobook and Kindle book lists were more alike than the audiobook and paperbook lists.
Outside of Stars, there was no overlap between audiobooks and “books”.
My sense here is that children’s books (often given as gifts) may have a much bigger share of the p-book market than of the e-book or audiobook market. That makes sense to me: a Dr. Seuss book is kind of short for an audiobook, for one thing.
Also, if we take Glenn Beck as an avatar of conservatism, it might be true that conservatives are more likely to be reading p-books. I’m not sure where my personal “stereotyping” would fall on that. I may think of conservatives as “old-fashioned”, but I can also conjure up an image of liberal hippies wanting p-books.
We had certainly seen in the past that older people, who one might guess to be more conservative, were the earliest, strongest adopters of e-books (despite the demographics of people in early Kindle ads).
One of the p-books on the bestelling “books” list is a coloring book…something like that can be done with an e-book, but not with an audiobook.
My intuition looking at this?
People are giving p-books as gifts, especially to children and young adults. Oh, the Places You’ll Go may be thought of as being on here as a children’s book, but it is a very popular graduation gift…and we are getting close to that.
It may be that for simply recreational reading for themselves, people are shifting towards e-books…but for gifts for other people, they like the literally more substantial nature of a paperbook.
Hmm…I would also say, except for the #1 book, that the audiobooks are more likely to be or have been New York Times bestsellers. It’s expensive and time-consuming to produce an audiobook. I would also guess that most audiobook users are attracted by big names doing the reading, be they the authors or actors…so that may still be the purview of the tradpubs (traditional publishers). An audiobook is a relatively big investment (over $20, typically), so people may want the security of the establishment.
If we come back to this in a year, I think we’d see the tendency for kids’ books to dominate the “books” list to be even stronger.
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What do you think? Is this too small a sample? If you give a gift, to prefer to give a p-book? Would you buy an audiobook from an indie author you didn’t know…with the same frequency that you would buy an e-book or p-book from a similar author? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.