December 24, 2008

E-book Sales Still Small, But Growing Quickly

Recently, The Tech Desk has been covering the switch from print to digital format in the news business. Whether or not you are ready, more and more media are reducing or eliminating print and moving to all online, electronic publications.

But what about the book publishing business? Will book readers really forgo their paper texts for digital ones, viewable on Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader, or one of the dozens of other devices now available?

Well, increasingly, evidence shows that they will. According to a recent article in The New York Times:
“For a decade, consumers mostly ignored electronic book devices, which were often hard to use and offered few popular items to read. But this year, in part because of the popularity of’s wireless Kindle device, the e-book has started to take hold…

Many Kindle buyers appear to be outside the usual gadget-hound demographic. Almost as many women as men are buying it… and the device is most popular among 55- to 64-year-olds.

So far, publishers like HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster say that sales of e-books for any device — including simple laptop downloads — constitute less than 1 percent of total book sales. But there are signs of momentum. The publishers say sales of e-books have tripled or quadrupled in the last year.

Amazon’s Kindle version of “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski, a best seller recommended by [Oprah] Winfrey’s book club, now represents 20 percent of total Amazon sales of the book, according to Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.

So you want to give electronic books a try? The Troy Public Library has e-books that you can download to your computer. Visit our website at, and click on Downloadable eBooks, Audiobooks and Videos in the left side frame. From here, you’ll be able to access our OverDrive and netLibrary collections, each of which has hundreds of ebooks for you to download and view.

Let us know what you think.

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