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July 19, 2012

Watershed: Ebooks Outsold Hardcover (Real) Books

...in the adult fiction category, at least (which is a big category).

I'm still really liking the Kindle (or any ereader -- if I were buying a new one, I'd give Barnes & Noble's Nook (with integrated LED lighting) a look.

Here's one thing about the ereader: It creates a new thing called impulse reading. And that's really important, if you think about it. You can buy movies on impulse, but books? Books you have to shlep to get, and if you're struck with a desire to read at 10 or 11 pm at night, you can forget it.

So, like, last night, for whatever reason, I came across "Captain Blood" and thought, "Hey, maybe I should download Captain Blood." And I downloaded a couple of other of Raphael Sabitini's books, the ones whose titles I knew from movies -- Scaramouche, The Sea-Hawk. All free, as they're public domain. So, around 11pm last night I started reading Scaramouche, without it ever having really become a plan of mine to read Scaramouche. (So far, it's good, but not what I was expecting, which was more of a Scarlet Pimpernel action romp; I guess I'll just have to see if it turns into that.)

I think this aspect of the ereader -- instant gratification, unplanned reading, impulse downloads -- is a pretty major thing. Previously books seemed like such a commitment; I had to choose a book, find out if I really wanted to read this particular book, and etc.

Now, more and more, I just sample books. Like you might sample tv shows, or watch the first ten minutes of a movie on HBO.

I continue to be a major booster. I think it's a hell of a product. I pretty much stopped reading for twenty years and now I'm reading a fair amount.

Hmmm... Just realizing that maybe the ebook figures are inflated by the very "impulse download" factor I'm talking about -- I know I've downloaded more free ebooks that I intend to read (Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes, Burton's Arabian Nights, etc.) than I've actually read.

And everyone, once they get one of these things, goes on an orgy of downloading free classics they always meant to read (or re-read).

So there's a certain amount of inflation cooked into the figures, there.

Still, seems a big moment.


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posted by Ace at 05:05 PM

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