A comparison of print and electronic format
Amazon reported stunning figures in March 2011 that their e-books were outselling print books (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/technology/20amazon.html) for the month of May. Although e-books only constituted about 14% of the consumer fiction and nonfiction market, that number was predicted as likely to grow. Nine months later USA Today listed that e-books outsold print books for 32 out of the top 50 titles on its holiday season report (http://paidcontent.org/2012/01/13/419-e-books-outsell-print-for-majority-of-titles-on-usa-today-bestseller-li/). This inclines me to believe that the popularity of e-books will only continue to grow larger for reason of their numerous benefits over print books.
The e-book’s most obvious advantage is that you can fit thousands of books on a single device or hard drive and take them all with you wherever you go. Language translation and text-to-speech software are usually integrated. The purchase is instantaneous and production is cheaper so the price is generally lower, and a printed book’s production consumes 3 times more raw materials and 78 times more water than an e-book.
Of course there are disadvantages too. The initial investment in a Nook or a Kindle can be high, and those devices are simply unavailable or inaccessible to many people in the world for reason of their high cost. Also, the integrity of the e-book is only equivalent to the integrity of the device it’s on, so it’s possible – although unlikely with the extensive online backup technology we have – that you may lose your entire collection at once through water damage or some other accident. There are also the tactilely inclined readers who love the feeling of a page between their fingers and refuse to give that up.
Whatever you might think the future holds for e-books, there are three things you authors out there need to take seriously under consideration: it is cheaper and easier to publish e-books over print books, sales reports indicate a trend of e-book popularity in the future among the large distributors, and constantly improving technology is making the e-book format more enjoyable and more accessible than ever before.