Digital Publishing: eBooks Statistics Indicate Growing Popularity

The evolution of the way we consume and enjoy the written word is quite fascinating and it naturally follows the path of human progress.

No doubt about it, the publishing world has come a long way since Gutenberg introduced the printing press in the 15th century. Modern digital publishing has enabled us to carry wholesome libraries inside our pockets as we can access all of our favorite books and magazines via mobile devices.

Technological advancements have completely transformed the world and shaped the way we think, learn, progress, and connect with one another. They have also deeply influenced the way we enjoy life and spend our free time.

The shift from the analog towards the digital is evident in new reading habits, which made their impact on the book industry. Healthy projections say eBooks are here to stay: they currently account for about a quarter of global book sales and are expected to generate nearly $20 billion by the end of 2018.

What Is an eBook Exactly and When Did It First Appear

An eBook (electronic book) can be an electronic version of an existing printed book or a publication specifically designed to exist in a digital format, without its printed equivalent.

First eBook ever published was the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It was digitized back in 1971, when Michael S. Hart launched Project Gutenberg with a goal of encouraging the creation and distribution of eBooks. Project Gutenberg is still alive and kicking with over 57,000 eBooks in its library. It’s lead by a noble mission — to offer completely free eBooks, mostly older works for which copyright has expired.

In the early eighties, CD-ROM appeared on the market. At the time, CDs represented a great way to share information, which was very much needed given the fact that the Internet was not yet fully publicly available.

Sony pioneered the first electronic readers in the nineties by launching its Data Discman. Other brands followed but there wasn’t really a “boom” in terms of customer receptiveness at the time. There was a perfectly logical explanation for this. Firstly, the eBook industry was at its very beginning and there weren’t many titles available in digital formats. Secondly, the design of these devices was not very attractive.

The first significant breakthrough happened in 2007 when Amazon launched the famous Kindle. The U.S. eCommerce giant really hit the bullseye by offering direct access to the Kindle store where eBooks could be purchased at competitive prices with just a few clicks. This convenience and user-friendliness encouraged impulsive buying and helped Amazon generate serious revenue. Some estimations suggest that in 2013, Amazon generated around $3.9 billion solely of Kindle sales.

Of course, Kindle’s design was further developed, along with features and supported media. When eBooks started gaining momentum, competition fired up. Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the U.S. introduced its own eReader called Nook, and Sony made its big comeback.

However, eBook readers sales have been gradually decreasing since their peak in 2011. Regardless, eBooks remained readers’ preferred choice of format because people simply exchanged their Kindle devices for tablets and smartphones.

Paper Books vs eBooks

Statistics say people are becoming more receptive of eBooks: user penetration is currently 10.5% and it is expected to hit 11.8% by 2022.

However, there is an eternal debate between book lovers who are more on the traditional side, enjoying the touch and feel of paper books, and those who appreciate the convenience eReaders provide.

When it comes to pros and cons of eBooks vs traditional books, we can compare them by focusing on several points:

  • Accessibility
  • Reading circumstances and habits
  • Utility and personal preferences
  • Type of content
  • Benefits for the author

In terms of accessibility, eBooks definitely take the win considering that users can instantly purchase and access written works in digital format. In addition, eBooks can never really go out of stock like paper books can. This saves users a lot of time that they would usually spend on going to the physical store or, in case of ordering online — on waiting for the copy to arrive at their address.

Favoring paper books over eBooks (and vice versa) is highly dependable on reading circumstances and formed habits. For instance, carrying a tablet or any other type of eReader to the beach is not very practical, given the fact that it can get stolen or damaged. Also, a person who likes taking notes with a pen whilst reading, or finds artificial lighting of electronic devices unpleasant, would certainly prefer a paper book.

Another factor to take in mind is the actual type of content that’s consumed. For example, some may find graphic novels better in physical forms.

As for the authors, the book publishing process is far simpler in the case of eBooks than in the case of paper books. There are also additional benefits, such as faster entrance on the market, less money needed for the initial investment, and various built-in marketing and promotion systems one can take advantage of.

When you think about it, digital publishing solves major problems and bridges the usual obstacles that prevent authors from publishing. The book doesn’t get printed and is easily distributed online after a CMS setup.

Digital Publishing, Fit for the 21st Century

Traditional value chain and revenue model of the book industry are going through inevitable changes in the digital era. Digital publishing focuses entirely on end-customers and it relies on direct sales, which aligns pretty well with the overall shift of power towards the consumers.

In the past, before the market got heavily saturated due to the global expansion of capitalism, companies used more aggressive and interruption-based marketing methods and could get away with it just fine. In the 21st century, consumers have a staggering number of brands to choose from and they can easily turn their backs on companies if they experience any kind of dissatisfaction whilst interacting with them.

Regardless of the niche they operate in, companies know that they need to adapt to the pulse of their customers and prioritize a customer-oriented approach.

But why is this relevant in the context of rising eBook popularity?

When you think about it, the entire eBook industry is catered to readers’ needs. Purchasing eBooks provides a feeling of instant gratification, which is something all modern customers became accustomed to. Think of any title, find it online, pay for it, and read it under a minute. Sellers are well aware of the fact, which is why they look to utilize personalization as a marketing tactic and create urgency among consumers for greater revenue rates.

Authors who choose to self-publish an eBook can enjoy more control of both the marketing process and revenue. According to the PWC’s report “Turning the Page: The Future of eBooks”, the Internet will become the key distribution channel of various literary works, fiction or nonfiction, which will heavily affect the existing value chain and motivate all stakeholders to tap into the online market.

Does that mean that paper books will be vanquished? Not likely. They will always have their audience, but it’s debatable whether or not they will get suppressed by digital formats.

Forecasts say we are slowly moving into that direction. Innovative technologies are opening new opportunities in the eBook market and pushing the industry forward.

Readers’ needs are evolving in a fast-paced world. We at Scriptarnica have decided to do something that’s never been done before in order to simplify the publishing process and create a new, decentralized platform, fueled by the blockchain technology.

Scriptarnica is intended for reading, writing, publishing, selling, and buying eBooks, and completely tailored to the modern consumer. If you’re interested in finding more about the way we are reinventing the publishing business, check out our whitepaper or get in touch today!