What would get you to stop reading? Yeah, me neither

What would get you to stop reading? Yeah, me neither

Some people seem to be suggesting that Americans are reading fewer books.

I don’t buy it.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t intuitively feel that someone who reads books regularly is going to stop and replace it with other media.

Now, certainly, some life situations can change the amount of leisure reading you do. Changing a job can affect it, for one thing.

I do think that there are indicators that people are buying fewer books from publishers measured by the Association of American Publisher (AAP), but that’s not at all the same thing.

For the AAP measured (AAPm) publishers, there does appear to have been a downturn, according to this

Publishers Weekly article by Jim Milliot

and other sources, the AAP’s latest StatShot reports shows that sales of adult trade books (the kind of books you would have bought in a bookstore…not textbooks and such) are down 10.9% at AAPm in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 2015.

That is a significant drop…but my guess is that a lot of that is sales (or at least obtaining) migrating somewhere else. That could be books from indies (independent publishers) as well as downloading freebies.

I could easily a ten percent shift in the past year…even though it doesn’t have to be the full 10.9%. Some of the drop could be from the coloring book fad peaking.

The biggest change I see is a drop of 40.5% in children’s/young adult’s e-books.

I think young adult e-books can be particularly affected by

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I would guess that borrows from Amazon’s subser (subscription service) probably aren’t counted in the AAP figures.

I also think e-books are growing the number of books read…just not from the AAPm.

That has to do with convenience mostly, but I can say that I go through books a lot faster using text-to-speech (software which reads books aloud to you). Some tradpubs block the TTS access, which could slow down their sales some

The big tradpubs have also raised prices (they control consumer prices now, although Amazon can discount in some cases.

What do you think? Are people reading more or few books…and why? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

5 Responses to “What would get you to stop reading? Yeah, me neither”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I read an article in the last couple of days in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/business/media/audiobooks-turn-more-readers-into-listeners-as-e-books-slip.html
    that suggests revenue to traditional publishers is down, but audio books & paperbacks are up. Hardbacks and ebooks (from traditional publishers) are down in 1Q 2016. Another factor cited was that there were no blockbuster titles in the period.

    As you say this might be a harbinger of a transition away from traditionally published & purchased books to indies and subscription services. Of course the tone of the NYT article is upbeat, and that printed books and bookstores are making a comeback. I don’t buy it — as the population cohort moves on to those raised with little in the way of nostalgia for the printed book, I think ebooks will become more the norm.

    To my mind the NYT (and all those with a history deeply immersed in print) are just whistling past the graveyard (:grin)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      That article doesn’t make a point of it, but I think it’s important that it is digital audiobooks that are way up (over 36%)…physical audiobooks’ sales continue to decline (down 33%…pretty much offsetting, but I believe physical audiobooks will generally cost more). Mass market paperbacks are also down by more than 25%…that’s been the trend for some time.

      While Millenials may not be nostalgic for p-books (although they certainly had them as children), I think there is some “Golden Ageism” happening and that will continue to happen. P-books may be seen as symbolic of a mythical Golden Age. However, I suspect that people growing up now may tend to live in much smaller spaces, not unlike Tokyo, and in many cases inside a subdivided living space (either with other people who are their peers, or with relatives or otherwise who own a larger place). That may make p-books increasingly impractical, and that will have an impact. Also, newer, smaller publishers will move away from paper towards digital…it’s a more level playing field.

  2. Man in the Middle Says:

    A (possibly tradpub author) commenter on another blog made fun of my suggesting there this week that setting an asking price of $16 for a Kindle book about the problems of the middle class might limit the number of folks in the middle class who read that book.

    Just today a blogger whose opinion I respect recommended a trilogy of space war Kindle Ebooks by a well-known author. I was interested, until I saw the trilogy is priced at $34. Yes, I could pay that, but why would I when Amazon is regularly recommending 100 other Kindle sci-fi Ebooks to me, many of which are included in Kindle Unlimited, and by authors I already enjoy?

    At best, in such situations, I add the book’s ASIN to my EreaderIQ watchlist, in case its asking price ever drops to a level I consider fair.

    The trad-pubs currently appear doomed, and I say that sadly as I have at least one friend working for one as an editor. In my opinion, they’d have been much better off now if they had lost their pricing war with Amazon.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      On your last point, I think you are right…the tradpubs would have been better off if the Agency Model hadn’t happened. Amazon was tremendously building the e-book market, based largely on tradpubs. Now, I think they are still building the e-book market…just not with tradpubs in the forefront.

      On your middle class comment…I understand your point. I don’t think that particular type of book, though, is aimed at casual readers who are probably more sensitive to price. I think you want a book like that to seem to be of “weighty value” and having a higher price can help with that smaller market.

      $34 for a “space war” trilogy, though? As you note, there is an awful lot of competition in that genre which is much less expensive, and much of it is good and even well-known. The book is even competing with free public domain titles…it’s got to be exceptionally good to outweigh the price difference.

      Oh, and eReaderIQ is always a good choice. 🙂

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