A recent study proves that print books, and literature in general, are alive and well. ⤺ Tweet This!
This recent study by Pew Research found that 73% of those surveyed had read at least one book in the past year, a figure unchanged since 2012. And of those, 65% chose a print book over an eBook (28%) or audiobook (14%).
That is bad news for trees. But what does this mean for the indie author/publisher?
As usual, it means offering your potential audience as many options as possible. But it also means that, despite rumors to the contrary, print books are far from dead, fairly deep into the digital revolution.
This is why I recommend publishing your book or books in both print and digital formats, and throwing an audiobook into the mix if you’re vocally inclined and skillfully equipped.
The good news is that the majority of Americans are still reading books. The bad news is if they’re only reading one a year, the odds are overwhelmingly great that it is not your book. Sorry.
But that isn’t stopping writers from writing them, or publishers from publishing them. And you should do all you can to keep readers reading them, even if they’re not reading yours.
As an author it is amazing to me that anyone is still reading books at all these days, given all the competition for the general public’s attention. The plethora of publications in all formats actually gives me hope for the future of the medium, despite the fact that I’m just another drop in the virtual ocean.
Here is a brief breakdown of the benefits of each of these formats, which may explain their enduring popularity amongst our stubbornly literate society, at least relatively speaking:
Pros: You can touch it, so it feels like a substantial purchase. You can decorate a shelf with it. You can have the author autograph it at a live reading or convention. And if it has a cool cover, you can actually appreciate it in all of its graphic glory – which is also the upside to choosing a LP over a CD or especially a download. You can also use your collectible bookmarks for something other than something to scribble on to make sure your pen still has ink.
Cons: Due to their physical bulk, you can only carry a couple around at a time without it becoming cumbersome. Also, they are generally more expensive than their counterparts.
Pros: Convenience, in terms of both storage and transportation. You can literally carry around an entire library with you wherever you go. They cost less, by and large, and you can purchase them instantly. (You can also publish them instantly, for that matter). So if instant gratification is your thing, this is it for you. Additionally, Kindle will automatically hold your place for you, so you don’t even need an actual bookmark, further lightening your load.
Cons: a power outage combined with a dead battery will totally ruin your reading plans, at least temporarily. Also you can’t have your favorite author autograph your copy, unless you just have him or her defile your device with a marker.
Pros: you can do other things while listening to your favorite stories, including driving a car. You can put on earphones and work out or jog to the author’s literary rhythms. It cuts way down on eyestrain, too. And since it comes in a physical package, you can still get it autographed.
Cons: again, you need access to electricity of some sort to make it happen. Also, the voice chosen for the recording may be distractingly different than the one you imagined for the narrator, unless of course it’s an autobiography being read by the actual subject.
Of course, the fourth ideal option would be that your book is made into a movie, in which case your work, at least as translated to a completely different medium, would reach more people than all three of the above combined. But that one is out of your control. I should know.
Meantime, I am focusing on what is within my control, and I suggest you do the same, for the common cause of sustained literacy in our culture.