Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Journey of the Late Adopter

Day 1 - Ebooks? No way! Too expensive, and print will never be replaced.

Day 40 - Sure, authors like Konrath are making a bit of money, but this is a niche market.

Day 94 - Konrath is paying his mortgage with ebook sales? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 112 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped. They're still too expensive.

Day 223 - So a bunch of authors are making a bit of money on ebooks. Big deal. They're exceptions.

Day 300 - Okay, so the price of ereaders has dropped again. They're still too expensive.

Day 432 - Konrath is making over 12k a month? Big deal. He's an exception.

Day 541 - Hmm, ereaders are pretty cheap. But I'd never give up print books. I like print too much.

Day 940 - A lot of bookstores seem to be closing. Maybe I should have bought more print books.

Day 1114 - There sure are a lot of people with ereaders. The devices are easier to use, inexpensive, and have a lot more features. And there are millions of ebooks available, most of them cheaper than the print versions.

Day 1322 - Lots of authors are releasing enriched and enhanced ebooks. Some bigshot bestsellers are even releasing ebooks without a print version.

Day 1496 - Maybe I'll ask for an ereader for my birthday.

Day 1594 - I love my f*cking ereader. How'd I ever live without it?

Day 1687 - You don't have an ereader yet? Wake up and join the present day, you caveman.

______________

Ereaders have been around for over a decade, but I believe the revolution really began to pick up speed when Amazon released the Kindle 2 in 2009.

According to my scenario, by July of 2013, ereaders will be adopted by the majority of readers the US, and the preferred method of book buying.

This timeline is purely guesswork, of course. I'm basing it on the gradual adoption of the iPod by consumers, particularly the period of growth from 2004 to 2006, when sales went from four million a year to forty million a year. They are currently plateaued at over fifty million a year, and have been since 2007.

That '04 to '06 growth spurt looks a lot like what's happening now in the ereader world, with Random House recently reporting that ebook sales up were up 300% and Amazon predicting ebooks would soon outsell paperbacks on their site.

We're certainly in a time of tremendous growth, and it probably won't plateau for another two years or so. If it follows the same trend as the mp3 player (which followed other tech trends like home computers, cell phones, DVD players, and flat screen TVs) then my scenario may not be far off the mark.

Hear that, all of you naysayers? All of you folks saying you hate ereaders and will never get one? All of you who love the printed word and won't ever give up paper books?

By July 2013 you'll be eating those words.

108 comments:

Matt said...

Joe,

I am new to your blog and enjoying it.

But they will not be able to eat those words in 2013. The Kindle would break their teeth.

;)

Cheers,

Matt

T. B. Wright said...

I couldn't agree more, and it's strange to see your timeline, because that is exactly what I have gone through. From thinking it's just a fad to getting the new Kindle 3 Wi-fi in about a month. I'm also about to publish my first novel by the end of the year, skipping print publishing all together.
Do you think eReaders will become as ubiquitous as the iPod? For instance, pretty much everyone I know has an iPod or iPhone anymore, and I mean that literally. Everyone.
However, I only know about three people who own eReaders as of yet.

Great post, as always. Enlightening and witty.

Sincerly,

T. B. Wright

Terry Odell said...

Joe, I remember showing you my e-reader back at a SleuthFest conference. It was an e-Bookwise; Kindle hadn't hit the streets yet.

I'm hoping things will even out. It should be about choices. There are times I want print, times I want digital.

(But you ARE an exception to the $$ game. I think I get something like a 1% crossover of people who download my free reads vs those who fork over 99 cents for the one they have to pay for. I'm buying cheap coffee, not paying my mortgage with my digital sales.)

It's still about marketing. You're a master.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ok, I had nearly this exact conversation with my Dad yesterday! LOL

I told him it would take me 2 years, but I would convert him to owning an e-reader. He pointed out two books that he's reading that are not available as e-books (he was correct). I repeated, 2 years Dad. I'm just warning you now. :)

David Wisehart said...

A familiar pattern.

I've often been an early adopter, but I was a late adopter to cell phones. I held out for a long time, saying, "Why do it want people calling me all the time? No thanks."

Now I'm like, "What was I thinking? I'd never leave home without my cell phone."

David

Jarrett said...

I was someone who didn't think he'd like reading on a reader. I wasn't one of the vocal ones who shouted loud and strong that I'd never get an e-reader, but I just didn't think I'd like it as much as print.

Then I bought a smart phone and downloaded the Kindle and Nook apps. Now, I know better. Reading on a screen isn't much different than reading on paper. Especially since you still flip virtual pages. It was such an easy transition it was scary.

author Scott Nicholson said...

That's a good analogy. I tend to make the analogy with video, though more for the fate of bookstores.

Five years ago, we had at least six video stores in this little college town. Then we got RedBox. And Netflix got smart so I expect Redbox has maybe three more years.

Today we have ONE music store--it sells nothing but vinyl albums. Blockbuster is hanging on, but for how long? The one niche video store, catering to the college crowd, has diversified. Half of its floor space? Vinyl albums and paper books.

I guess I fall more into the "poor adopter" than the late adopter category. My daughter understands the e-reader. She needs no explanation or marketing hype.

Scott

(PS join me here at Joe's Place Sept 3 for the Kindle Giveaway Blog Tour)

TT. said...

Wait a minute -- doesn't the world end in 2012? I've been gearing all of my credit card purchases toward that eventuality.

Seriously, thanks for the great blog. It's helped me a lot in recent months as I struggled with the Dorchester announcement and then the mind-numbing process of seeking an agent for (hold your nose) a standalone horror novel.

I'm also on my third Kindle, and although I do love looking at books on shelves, I actually prefer the Kindle reading experience, especially with big lunker books.

Keep up the good fight!

Devon said...

You forgot the growing number of readers like me who've gone back to paper, and no longer want to read on an ereader.

I bought a K2 when they came out and LOVED it! It was new and fun and I didn't pick up a paper book for a year. Then I found an old paper book I'd been meaning to read, and it was like coming home again. I forgot how much I loved reading an actual book.

Just yesterday I drove across town to buy a paper copy of a book I could've downloaded for $3 cheaper on my kindle. I wanted the book because IMO the kindle experience is inferior to a paper book.

I still take my kindle on trips, and still enjoy reading out of print or free books on it, but the charm has worn off. I'm not the only one. Four women I work with all have ereaders, and all but one of them (she just bought hers a month ago) have started moving back to print books. I think this a pretty common trajectory that most people will follow.

Robert Burton Robinson said...

I bought an iPod Touch a couple of years ago, mostly for reading ebooks. At the time it was less than half the price of a Kindle. And I can use it for other things as well, like listening to my music, and recently, watching NetFlix movies.

My only hesitancy about purchasing a Kindle was the price. I am definitely getting myself one for Christmas. And my guess is that millions of others will do the same.

Can't wait to see how all these new Kindle owners will impact my ebook sales. I'm currently selling 50-60 ebooks a day.

Leslie Hanna said...

Nuh-uh. I love paper books, and I'll keep reading them and buying them and reading more of them. I may be personally supporting all the B&M book stores.

I work at a computer all day, and at night, when I'm horizontal in bed, I want to hold a book, not another electronic reader.

And if I'm hanging by my forearms in a pool, with only my head, shoulders and arms above water, I'll be holding a cheap paperback, not an e-reader. Just sayin'.

Sorry to bust your bubble.

Joe Konrath said...

Four women I work with all have ereaders, and all but one of them (she just bought hers a month ago) have started moving back to print books.

That'll change when there are no print books to move back to.

Once bookstores begin closing, the only place you'll be able to drive to get a print book is Wal-Mart, and they'll only carry bestsellers. So it is either download with one click, or order online and wait four days for the mail to come.

Sheryl Nantus said...

Except, of course, for childrens books.

I don't see handing my Kindle/Nook/whatever over to a child for "Goodbye Moon" or "Three Little Kitten". There will always been a need for board books, physical copies for children to hold and mangle and drool on.

Sorry to interrupt with a reality check.

Joe Konrath said...

I work at a computer all day, and at night, when I'm horizontal in bed, I want to hold a book, not another electronic reader.

The new Kindle 3 is lighter than a paperback, and the screen is as passive as paper--no eyestrain from flicker.

And if I'm hanging by my forearms in a pool, with only my head, shoulders and arms above water, I'll be holding a cheap paperback, not an e-reader. Just sayin'.

I take my Kindle to the beach and pool and read it in the water, and sometimes underwater, with $15 TrendyDigital waterproof case. Do you read in the deep end, or laying on the beach with the waves hitting you? Just sayin'.

Sorry to bust your bubble.

See you in 2013. :)

Joe Konrath said...

Except, of course, for childrens books.

Watch and see how ereaders begin to cater to children and parents. LeapFrong has made a billion dollars teaching children how to read using electronics. It's only a matter of time until an ereader aimed toward children is released.

Levi said...

There will always been a need for board books, physical copies for children to hold and mangle and drool on.

We have cameras that kids can't destroy no matter how hard they try. Within 12 months, there will be ereaders they can't destroy, either, and parents will be saying "You let your kids chew on paper books?!"

My only hope is that we don't lose the beauty and distinctiveness of page layout in all this mad rush to ereaders.

(Hey, Joe, any chance you could add name/url or OpenID to the commenting options?)

Levi said...

Oops. Crossing comments again.

CM Lefeve said...

Just purchased another 4 ebooks today (3 that are yours!). The one problem I find with ebooks and the ease at which one can read/purchase/store books, I find it very difficult to work on my own WIP...I have to quit reading in order to focus on my own book.

And in response to TB Wright: I don't own an eReader. I download the nook and kindle apps directly on my iTouch. Sure, the screen is a bit smaller, BUT I save so much by not having to buy the readers and just using the free apps. This may account for the lack(?) of eReaders...(I also use the free kindle on my laptop...great for eating and reading!)

Devon said...

That'll change when there are no print books to move back to.

Sure, but we'll all be dead by the time that happens.

I know you've put all your eggs in this one basket, but let's try to be somewhat objective about this, shall we? ebooks sell nowhere even remotely close to what print sells, and as long as there is a demand for print books, they will be available. That's America.

Sorry to burst YOUR bubble, but an eBook only world is a long long long way off.

Media Mover/Deanna Figueroa said...

Joe, great article!

I was a late adopter. It's not that I didn't like ereaders, I just didn't have the need. I was in the Amazon Vine program and had the money and time to wait for paperbacks, used, of course.

I bought my K2 in Dec. '09 when I realized that I wasn't going to be in the US much longer and didn't want to go through the agony of trying to find books in English overseas (again). It was also becoming more and more difficult for me to hold paperbooks, especially hardcovers, which I was having to prop up with pillows to avoid cramping in my hands.

How I lived without my Kindle, I don't know. I was used to it in less than a day and amazed by the sheer volume of free and inexpensive content for it. I'm a big fan of the classics and many of my favorite authors' works were OOP. I was thrilled to find that I had barely scratched the surface of the lists of some, such as Wilkie Collins and Sinclair Lewis! The Kindle disappears under my hand and I read much faster with it. I love to be able to change the font size to compensate for the ambient light.

Are ebooks more expensive? Yes, for newly-released titles if you're accustomed to buying used paperbacks. I amortized the cost of the books I've purchased with all the free books I've received, including the eARCs I'm now receiving from NetGalley, and my cost per book is about $1.29.

As far as the feel and smell of a 'real' book goes, I don't see it. I love books, have loved them since I was a very small child, but I'm not addicted to ink and paper. I suspect that a some of the people who say that they're going back to paper because of tactile issues just may have a problem with cost and aren't admitting it. There, I said it...flame away :D

While Rome is burning, I'll be reading one of my 600+ books on my Kindle. Cheers!

Founder said...

I would like some sort of ereader. I just don't want to pay for it yet (maybe Santa will surprise me). One more price drop, and maybe I'll be there. Anyway, I see books all the time that I would like to download.

A few weeks ago I went through some of my print books, made a stack of the ones I am going to give away. I'm just trying to figure how I would like to give them away.

www.peelingcheek.wordpress.com

patrick foster said...

Is there no room for someone who wants an ereader and likes printed books, too?

CM Lefeve said...

I think there is definitely room for ebooks AND print books. I love being able to purchase ebooks when I travel (or just for the hell of it) and have them all contained in one reader, but at the same time, I still enjoy buying print books (the bookcases in my study would look rather silly sitting empty).

The other day I bought a new bookcase and went to the used book store and bought 20+ books for under $30 to fill it up. So now, even though I have 20+ new books I haven't read yet, that hasn't stopped me from purchasing ebooks within the same time frame.

While I still enjoy print books, I always end up with cartons full of books I have read and end up giving away so many every year (I only save my favorites and autographed copies). With an eReader, they just get stored and I don't have to get rid of them.

Sheryl Nantus said...

I think this says it all...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4BK_2VULCU&feature=player_embedded

*laughs*

I'm still waiting for my flying car as well, so...

XD

author Christa Polkinhorn said...

Great post! I am excited about the ebook revolution, the opportunities it offers authors such as myself to publish books without having to battle the agent/publisher syndrome. I love my Kindle but I also like paperbacks, so I don't see why it has to be one or the other. I think both will be around for a while. And if not, hey, as long as I can get something (paper, stone, display) with interesting words on it, I'm happy!
Christa

Joe Konrath said...

Sure, but we'll all be dead by the time that happens.

Print will be around forever.

But chain bookstores won't. And when they go, the Big 6 will go, and so will the majority of print.

ebooks sell nowhere even remotely close to what print sells

Except on the biggest bookseller in the world, Amazon, where they outsell hardcovers and will soon outsell paperbacks.

Give it until 2013.

LA Burton said...

Hey Joe,
After much research and your blog I've decided to e-publish.

LA

Joe Konrath said...

I'm now allowing Open ID for comments.

Moses Siregar III said...

ebooks sell nowhere even remotely close to what print sells

I think that's changing fast, and I think it's changing even faster for fiction. There was a story recently that I can't find now, but it was about a new traditionally published book that has sold more ebooks than print books.

Levi Montgomery said...

I'm now allowing Open ID for comments.

Thank you!

Joe Konrath said...

new traditionally published book that has sold more ebooks than print books.

Laura Lippman's latest. (Laura's great, you should read her.) I can confirm that this just happened with a friend of mine, also a bestseller--more ebooks than hardcovers.

Rabia said...

LOL

This is SO going to be me. *grin*

Yeah, I know, I know. Being an early adopter is not part of my cautious, conservative personality type. I'm okay with that. :D

(Aaaaand I still don't own an iPod. Thinking seriously about a Kindle, though...)

Moses Siregar III said...

From PW:

To improve the customer experience at its physical stores, Borders said it is adding more non-book product in an effort it said to differentiate itself in the market. "We are taking steps to transform our retail model, in part through high-impact strategic partnerships, like Build-A-Bear Workshop, that enable us to offer a compelling mix of lifestyle focused products," said CEO Mike Edwards in a statement. "By offering a rich and relevant selection of product - both book and non-book - together with an exceptional customer experience, we will differentiate Borders from others in the marketplace.”

In addition to the Build-A-Bear Workshop, Borders is adding more educational children toys and games, adult games and puzzles, stationery and will expand its bargain book and value book segments. According to Edwards, its research shows that its customer base is largely female and that fact will drive all of its strategic efforts moving forward.

Gretchen said...

Very curious to watch what unfolds. I'm a late adopter (got a fax machine in the late '90's, my own cell in '05) who just ordered a Kindle. I read gobs of genre fiction, and on a bender, will read seven novels a week. Most of those are free (RWA conferences, library, friends) or from used bookstores. With a Kindle, I'd think nothing of spending $2.99 on each of those, and would be glad not to wonder what to do with the piles around my house. (Unfortunately, used PB is still cheaper than eBooks for my favorite writers.)

As a writer pursuing publication, there's an in-between question: what about trying the eBook publishers that give 35-40% royalties, with editorial and marketing support?

My own suspicion is that it's not worth it with Amazon offering 70%. Still, it's another sign of the old ways breaking down.

M.J.A. Ware said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M.J.A. Ware said...

Except, of course, for childrens books

Once the price drops below a certain price point (probably $100)or when parents buy themselves a newer e-reader, That's then we'll see kids walking around with e-readers (or phones screens large enough to read on).

How many parents once said, "I'd never by my kid a cell phone." Now, they want them carrying them in schools as a matter of safety.

Parents will always be willing to shell out for their kids education; e-readers will be no exception.

Kidlit's just going to take longer, which give us kid writers a little more time to get up to speed.

Heck, I already allow my 3 y.o. to play with my old Ipod, occasionally.

A.P. Fuchs said...

Is there no room for someone who wants an ereader and likes printed books, too?

Nevah! Black or white, day or night! Print or electronic, baby! *kidding*

The more formats the merrier. It's like folks who like print books and audio books.

Heads up, people, but Apple has sold 35 Million eBooks through iBookstore as per
Publishers Weekly: http://bit.ly/ddLhDT

- APF
http://www.canisterx.com

Derek J. Canyon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Christopherson said...

I live in semi-rural Ohio on the edge of one of the largest Amish communities in America. (The local Walmart has a hitching post to cater to them.) An anthropologist who studies the Amish told me over dinner the other night that he'd just seen his first Kindle, and he thought it rather ironic the device was owned by one of the Amish.

Devon said...

I think that's changing fast, and I think it's changing even faster for fiction. There was a story recently that I can't find now, but it was about a new traditionally published book that has sold more ebooks than print books.

2009 (the year of the Kindle) numbers from American Association of Publishers listed book sales of US Publishers at $23.9 billion. Out of that, ebooks contributed $313 million, and audiobooks $192 million.

I'm sure ebooks will continue to grow, but like I said earlier, they aren't going to take over the market any time soon. And most definitely not by 2013.

Eric Christopherson said...

I think that was Laura Lippman's new release, Devon.

FYI I recall Mike Shatzkin and a CEO at a major publishing house (forget which one) agreeing that it'll be no later than 2015 when ebooks reach 50% of the entire book market.

Jude Hardin said...

I have an 18K word middle-grade mystery that's not doing anything. Any idea how it might fare as a self-pubbed ebook?

Mark Asher said...

@Terry Odell:

"(But you ARE an exception to the $$ game. I think I get something like a 1% crossover of people who download my free reads vs those who fork over 99 cents for the one they have to pay for. I'm buying cheap coffee, not paying my mortgage with my digital sales.)"

I think he's the exception too. I suspect that as the self-publishing field becomes more crowded, it will be harder for indie authors to sell.

And I'm not trying to downplay the merits of self-publishing ebooks. I just expect the waters to get a lot more crowded.

I'm also one of those people who doesn't convert easily. I download the free sample and fail to be impressed. I insist on reading very good writing. Some of the stuff I've read that is self-published really needs a rewrite or two.

Derek J. Canyon said...

$139 is still a bit too expensive for me. Maybe I'll use the profits from my impending ebook to buy a Kindle. If there are any profits. ;)

(If anyone's interested, I've posted a PDF of one of my short stories on my blog.)

M.J.A. Ware said...

I have an 18K word middle-grade mystery that's not doing anything. Any idea how it might fare as a self-pubbed ebook?

IMHO, I'd say not very well-- at least right now. When Christmas comes around, it might be a different story.
If you aren't going to sell it to one of the big 6, then why not publish yourself. You may only get a few sales each month, but it might start to pick-up speed.

Many of the blogs and message boards I belong it have talked about this (MG and children's ebooks). It just doesn't seem like MG ebooks is selling well (yet). YA is doing much better, but it seems to be mostly adults buying it. The trend does seem to be slowly changing though.

M.J.A. Ware said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas Brookside said...

Jude,

It might do OK, depending on how you price it.

I know I'd buy it.

Mysteries do OK. It's like romance - there are readers who consume a lot of that content.

Some of the most successful Kindle authors posting at Kindleboards write cozies.

Tuppshar Press said...

Mark Asher: "I suspect that as the self-publishing field becomes more crowded, it will be harder for indie authors to sell.

And I'm not trying to downplay the merits of self-publishing ebooks. I just expect the waters to get a lot more crowded."

I agree. The waters are already crowded, and more and more people are going to self-publish.

I think there are, broadly speaking, three types of self-publishers emerging in all this (with overlap amongst them). First are the people with a dream, a story they've always wanted to tell. Maybe it's written already, maybe not. Maybe they've run it by a writing group, maybe it's a manuscript they had in their drawer or on their hard drive for a long time. And now they decide to put it out there and hope that others will appreciate what they've done. I've seen a lot of this in genres with enthusiastic fan bases, like science fiction and fantasy.

Others will take a look at the money being made and tell themselves that they can get in on the action by dumping any old thing into a Kindle or Smashwords book, slapping a cover on it, and sitting back and watching the money roll in (or so they think). In erotica this sort of thing is rampant already (because there is a perception in that genre that quality doesn't matter; for the record, it does, and there has to be more than just sex); some of the stuff you see is bad enough to make your eyes bleed.

The third group are those people who take not only the writing but the entire publishing process seriously. These are people who, for want of more shelf space, should have been published in the old print system. They take the time to edit, to proofread, and to write book blurbs that are free of typos and grammar problems, and that are actual promotional copy rather than just a book summary. They are the serious self-publishers and small presses, and they are the ones who are going to stand out from the growing crowd.

Will it be harder for self-publishers and small presses to sell? Sure. That's true of any maturing market. but quality will remain a constant, and will weed out a lot of the crowd.

Sean Mac said...

Mr. Konrath,

Watch and see how ereaders begin to cater to children and parents. LeapFrong has made a billion dollars teaching children how to read using electronics. It's only a matter of time until an ereader aimed toward children is released.

I have been saying the very same thing since July. I even am featured on a blog today (www.bythebookreviews.com) that discusses having ebooks in the classroom.

I agree it is only a matter of time before all schools are digital

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions
www.treasurehuntersclubbook.com

Nicole MacDonald said...

I can't wait for a Kindle which does color - I want to still have pretty 'cover'pages ;p

http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

Robin O'Neill said...

Much of my backlist is Middle Reader or YA. I see little action altho I was #1 at Amazon UK in my category for a couple days. I don't care. When readers are $50 I want to be positioned already. I know kids will be getting the readers and buying books. There's no doubt in my mind. If there was, I wouldn't be writing a YA now or have the design for the cover in my head, I'd be taking the mystery back from my agent and putting that at Amazon this week.

(I don't have a cellphone--we don't have service/whatever it's called here anyway-- or an iPod but I've had a computer since 1985.)

Moses Siregar III said...


I think he's the exception too. I suspect that as the self-publishing field becomes more crowded, it will be harder for indie authors to sell.


Joe is the exception for now, but in the future a healthy percentage of successful authors will be independent. Even then those folks will be the exception to the norm, because success always is.

But if someone does what Joe does, which is to A. write a lot of books for many years, and B. entertain people with those books, then with a reasonable amount of promotion, I'd have to think that those writers will eventually stand out and earn their spots in the upper ranks.

The people who are going to succeed are probably going to succeed no matter what changes in the marketplace, but they are going to need to have the right blend of persistence and talent to get it done. And particularly if they are indies, they will probably need enough backlist as well.

no-bull-steve said...

I'm in!

Before reading this blog post, I placed an order for my Kindle!

If I'm a late adopter it's only because of $. This is my first (and likely only) big splurge of the year and it's funded by... my eBook sales! How ironic is that?

Can't wait til it gets here.

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

It's only a matter of time until an ereader aimed toward children is released.

It's already here, and it's in color:

Leapfrog ereader

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

Here's another one from Vtech, also in color.

jtplayer said...

I'm pretty sure if Joe wasn't making $500 a day on this new "revolution" he wouldn't give a rat's ass about ebooks and Kindles and all the rest of it.

Not saying there's anything wrong with that, but his "prediction" smacks of self-promotion.

My prediction?

Virtually none of the independent authors who post here will ever achieve the numbers Joe does, or anywhere close to them. I'm talking true independent, unpublished authors.

Sure, you'll make some money, and many already are, but the goldmine just isn't there, IMO.

About the only thing you get with epublishing is easier access. All the rest of it is just as much of a crapshoot as traditional publishing.

Zoe Winters said...

What's funny is I used to be one of those "you can pry my paper books from my cold dead hands" kind of people... I said I would NEVER own an e-reader. Then I got one back in April where by some people's view, I'm still an early adopter.

I got my hair cut the other day and the lady doing my hair didn't even know what a Kindle or ebook reader is.

I agree with you that by 2013, probably most people will not only know what e-readers are, but have one. Probably a Kindle.

jtplayer said...

I believe Amazon has sold maybe 3 million Kindles since they were introduced.

I hardly think that by 2013 "everyone" will have one, either literally or figuratively.

Even if you lump in all the other ereaders out there you're so far from any kind of saturation of the marketplace it's not even worth talking about.

Levi Montgomery said...

Man, look at all these people! Joe, you should totally sell advertising in your comment streams. :)

Eric Christopherson said...

Even if you lump in all the other ereaders out there you're so far from any kind of saturation of the marketplace it's not even worth talking about.



Late adopter

jtplayer said...

Huh?

Eric Christopherson said...

Sure it's true, JT, that ebooks aren't saturating the market now, that they represent about 8% of the book market, but it was only about 3% a year ago, and there's a very good reason why so many major corporations are spitting out ereaders and tablets left and right. They know what a huge chunk of the market ebooks will be in a few short years.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi: found you through a friend.

I believe there is a place for both. But I also believe that e-books and readers are here to stay. Soon iPad will come out with an interactive reader, great for children books but also will add a whole new dimension to the books we love.

I am planning to self publish through Amazon. They can download to kindle, iPad, your computer and smart phone and more. Buy one book and have it available on multiple devices at no additional cost.

At Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers August workshop an e-publishing group attended. They are opening their market to all genre except porn. They charge $99.00 to take your word doc. and load it up to kindle, etc. Then they will do all the tracking, etc. for you and charge 10%. For anyone who struggles with computer applications and wants someone else to format your work this is ideal. I wrote a blog about it so you can check that out. Below is the name of the company.

They use to only do short pieces. Essential10.com

Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Prof. Hex said...

There will be ereaders for kids before you can say "Dr. Seuss". The market is there and somebody will fill it. They'll be relatively cheap and kids will be able to drool all over them. My five year old nephew can already work the remote and DVR so I don't see why he couldn't run a Kiddie Kindle.

I think the bookstore chains may be in trouble but used bookstores may enjoy another run - my friend's used store has had their best year ever. More bodies in the store than they've ever seen. Maybe it's the economy.

I don't own an ereader yet (my cellphone is 6 years old :) but I have published my first story collection on Amazon (Venom and Other Stories- only 99 cents!) thanks to Joe's example. I will eventually get one but I will always be a book hound. I bought a book today at Half Price Books - original cover price 50 cents - 27 cents with tax for me! So much of what I'm looking for doesn't exist on Kindle and probably never will. But hunting for books is a hell of a lot of fun and I don't plan to give it up.

What I'd really like to see is more of the Espresso Book Machines. there's a ton of really obscure stuff on Google Books I'd love to have a copy of without paying 100 bucks.

PJ Friel said...

I got a Kindle last year for Christmas and I am hooked...hard. It goes everywhere with me and I read 3x as many books as I did pre-Kindle. I've also found many new authors that I would have never taken a chance on if I was buying paperbacks.

When I finally give up my ghost, I suspect they'll find me holding it and will know exactly what page I was reading (no more losing my page! YAY!). Hopefully, it will be something profound. :P

Levi Montgomery said...

An apropos "Rhymes With Orange" strip:

http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/2010/09/september-02-2010/

Jason said...

Jude, I'd definitely buy your mid-grade mystery if you e-booked it & priced it at $2.99 or less. Then I'd say keep 'em coming.

My daughters are voracious readers, and would love to be able to read good age appropriate mysteries on my iPhone's Kindle app. Especially in the car when it's dark and they normally have to close their paper books- they'd love to be able to keep reading on an e-device.

Vicki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki said...

You tell them, Joe! Eat their words indeed. :)

I've just received June's Kindle royalty payment. Let's just say that my agent's commission was enough for him to buy a new iPad. And I am not an exception by any means.

Cheers
Vicki

Ty Johnston said...

Levi, in answer to that cartoon ...

http://www.amazon.com/Its-Book-Lane-Smith/dp/1596436069

cegrundler said...

I’ve predicted a similar time frame for similar reasons, and heard much the same replies. Tell me, how many pay-phones can you find these days? Many people don’t even have a wired phone inside their homes any more.

The rate in which technological changes have crept into our daily lives is accelerating exponentially, to the point that seeing a blue-tooth enable GPS navigating video game and movie playing family car with back-up cameras and collision avoidance monitors has become a normal, every-day sight. And those little occupants watching Spongebob from the third-row seats while texting their friends, tweeting and checking Facebook can’t even imagine a world before the internet, high-def and all those other technologies all us ‘late-adopters’ have gradually come to integrate into our existence.

Yes, that Leapfrog doesn’t surprise me in the least, I figured children’s books would make a wonderful platform for interactive fun and learning aps; you know Disney’s going to run with that for all it’s worth and once mom and dad fork over for kiddie-ereaders it’s just one more technology the next generation will embrace.

Some people could say it’s the end of the world as we know it and perhaps it is, but in the new world the 20 and under crowd, the consumers of the future, spend more time writing, texting and reading screens than they do watching TV. Written words, more specifically written *electronic* words, is their preferred medium for communication. Just as a decade ago most of us would have never predicted the technology of today, what lies ahead over the next five and ten years can’t be imagined.

Except for those flying cars. I’m still waiting on that one as well.

http://cegrundler.wordpress.com

Mark Asher said...

@cegrundler:

"Some people could say it’s the end of the world as we know it and perhaps it is, but in the new world the 20 and under crowd, the consumers of the future, spend more time writing, texting and reading screens than they do watching TV. Written words, more specifically written *electronic* words, is their preferred medium for communication."

They text and tweet and Facebook. I don't see how these activities lead to new readers and writers. If anything, what they are used to is not paying for what they read and being content with abbreviated, derivative, snarky prose in 256 character bunches.

Helen Hanson said...

Excellent post. The big question: when was Day 1?

I call my son's age group (13) the LeapPad Generation. (Someone else mentioned the company Leap Frog in a comment.) They grew up with technology in every form and don't consider the medium covet-worthy as people do a paper book.

Maybe someday they will jones for the smooth contours of a Kindle . . .

Chris Redding said...

My son's teacher posited that there are digital natives and digital immigrants. My kids are digital natives and I bet they will make the leap to e-readers with no problem. the rest of us, digital immigrants, are slower on the uptake. I have a novel on Kindle and will have Kindle on my xmas list this year.
Chris Redding

Scathach Publishing said...

Digital natives are the under 30 crowd, as I understand. I've had a mobile phone since I was 15, and I'm 28 next week, so very nearly half my entire life.

I've been brought up with every game console there has been (currently in my house there is a PS3, XBOX 360, wii, ps2, psp, and 2 nintendo ds). I have 2 netbooks, a PC, and a laptop (which needs fixed).

I don't have my Kindle yet, but I'm an early adapter. Because e-books are only booming in America, and I don't live in the States. They are only just being introduced to Britain.

By 2013 e-books will be available worldwide, which is one reason the number of e-book sales is going to explode.

Also readers will be cheaper and bookshops rarer.

The number of published books vastly outsold the number of published e-books in 2009, Deven claims.

Fine.

That is probably because some idiot decided $14.99 was a good e-book price. And because they didn't release every book as an e-book. And because e-book readers are only just starting to get popular.

To those who think Joe is an exception. It wasn't Joe who made it into the top 25 of all books on Amazon (25 out of 700,000+) (sorry, Joe).

As Zoe recently asked on her blog, how many exceptions are needed before its the norm?

And if you don't have a Kindle and want one, you should stop by Zoe's blog this week. She's doing a cool competition where you can win one.

For all you late adapters, lol.

(Google Zoe Winters or scroll up and click on her name.)

Devon said...

I've just received June's Kindle royalty payment. Let's just say that my agent's commission was enough for him to buy a new iPad. And I am not an exception by any means.

Why the hell would you give your agent commission on a self published novel?

Linda Pendleton said...

After e-publishing for ten years, the upswing in the last year or more is proof the technology has now found its place. Will it replace print?...no, I don't believe it will completely, but will give choice to readers.

Vicki said...

@ Devon – Think of it as an agent in the new age. I won’t go into it here, but if you’re interested check out: Check Your Assumptions At The Door and Why did you go indie?

Cheers
Vicki

Joe Konrath said...

It wasn't Joe who made it into the top 25 of all books on Amazon

Yeah I did.

Jack H. H. King said...

Joe,

2017. Ebooks will track slower than ipods. But the future will happen.

80% of the market will be lcd/oled table computers. 20% will be dedicated e-ink readers.

Nook will die. Kobo will die. Sony Reader will die.

Kindle will claim 95% of the 20%.

Google will rise and claim 80% of the 80%.

New York will survive and maintain 95% of the market. (This is good.)

1% of all ebooks sold will be indie books that sell less than 100 copies, sold to friends and relatives. (This is good.)

3% will be self-published nonfiction by professionals with strong platforms. (This is good.)

1% will be indie fiction gods like Super Joe and Sidekick Zoe. (This is good.)

Paper books will become antiques.

I still have my father’s set of “The Lord Of The Rings” paperbacks, published in 1974. I still read it once per year. It’s the only version I will ever read.

I will be a late adopter.

I spent my 2008 Kindle royalties on a 50” plasma. But I still don’t own a Kindle. I’m waiting for a 2012 iPad. I wouldn’t buy a Kindle unless the 10” DX came down to $49.

- Jack

Joe Konrath said...

New York will survive and maintain 95% of the market.

I don't see it happening. They're not doing a single thing right, and once we reach a tipping point there will be no reason at all for authors to take a smaller royalty and sign with a publisher.

davidkubicek said...

Great post. I can relate. But now I have a Nook, and it is cool!

simon said...

"80% of the market will be lcd/oled table computers. 20% will be dedicated e-ink readers."

- Nope they'll be "phones" with expanding, foldout, or sntwdkay (some new technology we don't know about yet)screens

Smartphones = 3 Billion in 2012 5 Billion in 2017.

New York = History in the making

Chicki said...

Have you read the thread about you on Mobilereads.com?

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=88126

Devon said...

Think of it as an agent in the new age.

I read both of those blog posts, and it sounds just like every other story about someone who couldn't get published so they turned to self publishing. The only difference is you're actually rewarding your agent for not being able to do his job and sell your book. It's your money, and you're free to flush your pennies away however you want, but don't kid yourself about it being a new age.

Agents provide a service. If they can't do that service they don't get paid. This arrangement garauntees they'll make an effort to do their job. If agents start expecting their clients to pay them from royalties on self published books they couldn't sell, then what is going to motivate them to get out there and sell your book to start?

It's amazing you can still walk after being bent over like this.

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

I'm a believer! That's why I'm on board now. I don't want to look back in 2 years (that was my estimate too, of when it'll hit it's peak, and I was also thinking of how the iPod revolutionized music) and say, damn, I wish I would've done it. My YA ebook, INTO THE SHADOWS, will be available later this fall. I already have an awesome cover, thanks to Joe's cover designer, and his formatter is doing the dirty work for me. Thanks so much Joe, for doing what you do, you're an inspiration!

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I've had an ereader for a while now and it mostly sits on a counter, untouched. Old habits die hard and I tend to reach for a paperback when I have a chance to read.

But that's just me. I think you're mostly right in your timeline, and I think you're right that bookstores will go the way of the music stores—which is a shame. I like bookstores. I liked music stores, too. I also like—no, love—libraries, and I fear they'll be gone, too.

But times change and unless we change with them, we're left behind.

rex kusler said...

I'm thinking the device of the future will have a flexible display that rolls up and retracts into a cylinder. The whole thing, when not in use, needs to fit in a pocket or purse. You push a button, and the display pops up out of the cylinder, and unrolls. You hold it by the cylinder like a fan. Ear phones plug into the bottom of the cylinder. Families will be spending quality time together, each watching/reading their own stuff.

Jude Hardin said...

One of the good people at Oceanview just sent me the link to a new site for small press and indie authors. Check it out.
http://www.bestsellerbound.com/

Vicki said...

@Devon

“It's amazing you can still walk after being bent over like this.”

LOL Oh, so cynical. Agents aren’t just salesmen, or at least mine isn’t. He wears many hats, not least editor and mentor. My success isn’t just down to my hard work.

Cheers
Vicki

Jack H. H. King said...

Joe,

Is this an accurate outline of your success?


(A) You developed your craft to the point that you secured a good agent and sold to a major publisher.

(B) SERIAL launched on Kindle at $0.00. (200,000 downloads?) AFRIAD launched at $1.99. (??? downloads?) With this, your publisher planted the seed for your moneybomb.

(C) You used your unpublished backlist smartly to fuel instant rapid growth.

(D) Amazon’s recommendation system connected you to readers, and now accounts for 90% of your sales. Amazon’s 70% royalty is spinning your works into gold.

(E) You keep cranking out quality novels.

(F) You encourage all authors to skip steps A, B, and C.


- Jack

Eric Christopherson said...

Agents aren’t just salesmen, or at least mine isn’t. He wears many hats, not least editor and mentor. My success isn’t just down to my hard work.

Good points, Vicki. A lot of agents are excellent editors because they used to be editors before they were agents.

Verilees said...

@Vicki: Oh, you are Vicki Tyley. Loved Thin Blood and I'm going to be starting on Slight Malice soon. I actually found you because of a post by your agent I saw somewhere.

Looking forward to more thrillers in the future.

Vicki said...

@Verilees: That’s me. :) I’m thrilled to hear you loved Thin Blood. I hope you enjoy Sleight Malice just as much.

Cheers
Vicki

Stacey said...

Beyond true, I was very resistant to Kindle, or any ereader. But that was only because I hadn't tried one. It took about 10 minutes to change my mind once I had one in my hands.

rex kusler said...

I remember feeling that way about girls--when I was eight.

wannabuy said...

I agree with Scott,

Books will go more the way of videos. The decline of chain bookstores will be accelerated due to how few customers represent the majority of the business.

e-books are 8.5% of the market growing by 0.5% per month. Argue what you want as the tipping point. We're approaching it.

As soon as there is a $199 ruggedized Kindle, my daughter gets one. (Hey, Motorola ruggedized an Android cell phone which is a more fragile device than a Kindle...)

I just found out two retired ex-coworkers switched to Kindles. Their grandkids pushed them to adopt...

The only people I know holding onto paper read less than 4 books per year. Most are defecting to cell phones/laptop e-books. Amazon was wise to seed the market with their multi-platform approach.

Lightsaber

Alex Wilson said...

Just put you on my blog, Joe, with the title 'THE WORD on ebooks'. Check it out at www.wilsonwritings.com. You do good work.

Heather Dearly said...

I'm sold on ereaders and prefer them over print, but my mother, who is in her 60's, is computer/electronic phobic and refuses to jump on the train, so I have to gift her lit in print. She is beyond a late adapter. She's a no-thank-you anti-adapter.

wannabuy said...

Heather said:
is computer/electronic phobic

There will be those for a bit. But my 'late adopting' parents, also in their 60's, are Kindle fans now.

Neil

ps
Mea Culpa for signing my last post with another blog username... oops.

Walter Knight said...

I have tried to sell my paperbacks for "America's Galactic foreign Legion," but in August only sold 5 in August. In that same month I sold 500+ Kindle books of AGFL.

The Kindle eBook owners are avid readers, and I have no choice anyway because my books are only sold online. Bookstores will not put a POD book on their shelves.

evilphilip said...

"But chain bookstores won't. And when they go, the Big 6 will go, and so will the majority of print."

I think you underestimate the ability of large corporations to adjust to change.

Yes, the Big 6 might become the Big 4 as book stores start to close up shop and people move from print to eBook, but the independent author will never be able to compete with the ability of the big print publisher to both improve the quality of a work (editing) and get that work in front of readers (marketing).

They have the experience doing both and will continue to provide that service even if the percentage of royality that they pay out to authors in the future increases.

A "Big 4" book will almost always be higher quality than a book you can write on your own and your "Big 4" ePublisher can still use their marketing muscle to make sure that Amazon, B&N and other eRetails push your book above the books from independent authors -- both on the online store side of things and in E-mail blasts.

If memory serves, wasn't getting an E-mail blast part of your print deal with Amazon.com? If Amazon can push your book in an E-mail blast you know that they can push a book from a big publisher.

Add in the fact that a certain percentage of books will remain in print (Stephen King, James Patterson, J.K. Rowling & books from celebrity authors.) and the foundation of what big publishers do remains almost the same even as the public moves from paper to eInk.

Not everyone is going to survive in a changing environment, but ask any gardener how difficult it is to keep out 100% of the weeds.

A few of the big publishers might get pruned out, but they will grow back.

Laura Austin said...

SO spot on - really good read and scarily true!! Thanks for the insight. I think it will move as quick as the ipod too....but here in the UK hopefully will be a bit later than 2013. Going on my blog:
Cheers!
L

pagerd said...

@ Terry Odell,

Your ninety-nine cents offering is a short story that's a sequel to two $9.99 books.

Try a stand-alone story for sale instead. I know I'd be more willing to buy it.

Robin

bowerbird said...

joe said:
> and once we reach
> a tipping point
> there will be no reason
> at all for authors to take
> a smaller royalty and
> sign with a publisher.

and it's not just about money...

as you have said lately, joe, and
seth godin recently reiterated,
it's about _control_.

in terms of long-range _career_,
_control_ is more important than
the short-term monetary reward
(or lack of it). face the obvious --
new york is only interested in
squeezing you, getting as much
money out of you as they can,
and in the least amount of time.
they don't care about your career.
they throw your shit at the wall
to see if it sticks, and if it don't,
tough luck, kid, see you later...

so _take_control_ of your work,
and take control of your career...

-bowerbird

design4life said...

This makes me happy/sad. I am happy that e-readers will possibly get more people to read more books, maybe. But it makes me sad because I am a print book designer. I am learning about prepping ebooks, but it's NOT design it's coding, and it's not fun or creative—my reason for being.

I think print books—the special ones—keepsake volumes, will be still be around for a while longer than 2013, but so few that I may not have a design job anymore.

Ironically, my favorite way to consume fiction is with audiobooks. My bad. On the other hand, I probably need a break from this job I've been doing the last 30 years. So I am practicing for my next career, "Welcome to WalMart, would you like a cart?"

Of course we're all going to die in 2012, so why worry?

Sue Campbell—book designer

evilphilip said...

" I am learning about prepping ebooks, but it's NOT design it's coding, and it's not fun or creative—my reason for being."

Yes, book design on the Kindle is coding, but it is exactly as creative as doing regular layout.

I downloaded a copy of a book on the iPad and the layout was fantastic. Whoever did the eBook for that one was being creative.

I think once you dive in you will find it rewarding -- and HTML style coding can lead you in a lot more career directions.

Moses Siregar III said...

Great point, bowerbird. You articulated something I've been wanting to say.