Don’t Count Printed Books Out Just Yet

Posted: January 14, 2015 in Writing
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Two weeks ago I wrote here about the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.  Two days ago my blog was reposted on the popular writing site, Critique Circle, that I wrote about here one week ago.  The post generated quite a lot of discussion, with strong opinions on both sides, including first-hand experience of both types of publishing.

One strong argument in favor of self-publishing included a link to Hugh Howey’s recent post, The Glut Is Good. Howey argues that there is nothing to fear from the presumed over-abundance of cheap e-books flooding the market.  Rather, he proposes, it is actually good for the market, because there are fae more choices available and afordable to the average reader.  This is, in turn, good for the market in general, because more readers means more future sales.

Howey makes a good point.  His assertion that there has never been a better time in history for literature may be correct.  The rise in popularity and quantity of digital titles certainly makes reading and aquiring books accessible and convenient to many more readers than ever before.

But that doesn’t mean you must want to provide those 99 cent e-books. I know I certainly don’t.

Others argue that this glut of cheap digital books means the print book market is dead or dying. There has certainly been a decline is printed book sales since 2010 when the digital market exploded (and incidentally Borders went out of business).  Digital books are on the rise with no sign of stopping, so traditional printed books must be on the decline.

Well, despite the dire predictions it appears the trend is reversing itself.  Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly just reported the numbers for 2014 in For Books, Print Is Back.  And the numbers are encouraging.

Almost across the board, sales of printed books rose over 2013 for those outlets reporting.  Children’s books, in particular, had impressive growth last year.  Board books alone rose over 17%.  Hardcover and trade paperback books saw increased sales, too.  Read Milliot’s analysis — it is encouraging and has charts.   Howey didn’t have charts….

So for those of you still weighing your options, look to the future of print and don’t fear the glut.



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