Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Smoking... E-book?
by Sandra Parshall
If traditional publishing dies, a lot of crime fiction readers will be standing over its lifeless form with smoking e-books in hand. Digital novels made up half of all mystery/detective sales in the final quarter of 2012, beating back print formats to take the lead in the genre for the first time.
According to Bowker Market Research (as reported in Publishers Weekly), e-book sales for the entire year averaged out to 35% of mystery units sold, with a big increase in the fourth quarter. In the same quarter of 2011, e-books accounted for only 38% of the genre’s sales.
As digital sales rose, the numbers for most print formats declined. In the last quarter of 2011, hardcovers made up 27% of the mystery market; in the same period of 2012, hardcovers declined to 19%. Trade paperbacks dropped from 15% to 13%.
The only print format holding its own in the mystery market was mass market paperback, remaining steady at 16% from 2011 to 2012 -- although the category across all genres has suffered a drastic decline since e-books began their relentless climb to dominance. Publishers Weekly points out that the second highest print sales for a mystery/detective novel reported to BookScan in 2012 were for a mass market paperback: Lee’s Child’s The Affair. Four other mass market paperbacks, all by major authors in the genre, also made the top 10 list for the year. Two trade paperbacks came in eighth and ninth, and only two hardcovers made the list: Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich at number one and 11th Hour by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro at number four.
Other aspects of the Bowker study of mystery sales show that the profile of the most avid book-buyers remains the same: women account for 75% of sales, and 65% of all buyers are over the age of 55. Only 12% of buyers are between 30 and 44, and 16% are between 45 and 54. Readers with incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 bought 26% of the books. People at the top of the income scale, making more than $150,000 a year, bought the fewest books, accounting for only 9% of sales. (Too busy making money to find time for reading?)
Another interesting new survey, done by the Book Industry Study Group, shows that multi-function tablets have surpassed dedicated e-readers like the Kindle in popularity among e-book buyers. So it’s not surprising that Amazon’s share of the e-book market is decreasing.
A couple (or three) questions for readers:
What percentage of the books you buy is digital?
Are you buying and reading more since acquiring an e-book reader?
Do you have a dedicated e-reader or a multi-function tablet? Or both?