The Revolution In Reading

I’ve written (and spoken) about the dramatic changes in the publishing industry many times over the past few years, pointing out that the changes are so sweeping that they constitute the “new revolution of publishing”. A book’s journey from author to reader can be thought of as two halves: 1) from author to published book available for sale, and 2) from book for sale to reader’s hand. My writing on the revolution have focused only on the first half of the journey, and how print-on-demand technology was dramatically lowering the barriers to publishing. Though e-book readers have been around for many years, I thought it would take them a very long time to catch on (if they ever did), and that their impact would not be revolutionary. Boy was I wrong.

The second half of a book’s journey from author to reader, from book for sale to book in hand, is also undergoing a revolution. In just a short time, e-books have become the dominant form of publishing books, outselling hardcover, trade paperback, and all other forms of publishing. Wow!

One great effect of the e-book readers is that many (or most) readers report that using the devices leads to vastly increasing the rate at which they consume books, such as going from two or three books a month to two or three books a week, or more. Amazing!

Most incredibly, however, it seems that the hopes that an e-book reader would “re-kindle” the industry have proven largely true. It is widely reported that Kindle owners buy more books. If they find an author they like and the price is right, many Kindle owners will simply buy everything available by that author. It is also widely reported that e-book reader owners simply buy more books than their physical-book-reading counterparts, so much so that Amazon is reported to be considering giving away the Kindle, knowing that readers will buy more than enough e-books to make up the cost. Incredible!

I must confess that I was ignorant of this aspect of the revolution for a long time. Now, however, I am a Kindle owner, and I have experienced first-hand the boost in reading quantity and quality, and I can attest to it’s amazing ability to boost book buying. I’m absolutely hooked, and I can now imagine a future where e-books are the norm and printed books are rare.

All this has really caused me to seriously reconsider my place in the universe, and I’m on the verge of announcing a major decision. This is an exciting time to be a reader, and a great time to be a writer.