I've been tracking print versus eBook sales for years. In 2008, my print sales were four times my eBook sales. In 2009, three times. By 2010, sales were almost even between the two formats. As you may have guessed, 2011 was the year sales flipped upside down--with a vengeance. In 2011 my Kindle sales alone were three times my print sales. To my surprise, the shift in format continues to accelerate. This month my eBook sales were eight times my print sales.
Is this good or bad? Let me see. I earn a higher royalty on eBooks, I can monitor my sales in near real time, and I'm paid monthly with only a sixty day delay. That's the good side. The bad side is that I've participated in a couple of recent book signings at Barnes and Noble. Both were duds. Book signings used to be fun ... and educational. Now I drive home wondering if they're worthwhile. Probably. I see eBook sales go up after an event. I'm not sure what this tells me except that my signature is not worth six dollars--the difference between the print cost and an eBook version.
There's an old saying in investing: Don't fight the tape. It means don't buck the trend. I'm personally on my fifth Kindle. When I took my first model on an airplane, people would ask what it was. Now, every reading passenger seems to have an eReader. I used to see a book cover I recognized and asked my fellow passenger how they liked it. Now what we read is a big dark secret. In a way I like it because I imagine they’re all reading one of my books.
It appears the print format for narrative books may go the way of the 8-track. Some will lament the good ‘ol days, but what really counts is that people read. And it certainly appears from my personal sales that the Kindle and like-devices are causing people to read more. Hurrah for that!