Thursday, August 15, 2013

eBook Sales Decline?

That seems like an exaggeration to me, but the numbers show a dramatic slow-down in the pace of sales increases. This article from Slate by author Robert Rosenberger is a fascinating read. From the article, the most plausible speculation as to why this is happening is the rise in tablet computing. The dedicated ereader has fallen by the wayside as tablets have become more affordable. Compared to a dedicated ebook reader, tablets offer a tremendous variety of things to do BESIDES read.

So, are people simply reading less altogether? The article doesn't delve into this much, but I can tell you that while foot traffic in our library has never been greater, paper book circulation has declined over the past 12 months. eBook circulation here is still in its infancy due to the slow growth of the collection and the ridiculous tactics of big publishers and their treatment of public libraries.

Public library problems aside, the notion that reading at length is declining is a very scary prospect. Will Rogers, I think, gave us this thought about reading / learning:

There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
I hope the Slate article does not turn out to mean that the latter group is growing - that's not a good thing. But I wonder what this means for all the money we've been pouring into ebooks.

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