The fast-changing reading habits of Americans have been highlighted by a report issued on Thursday from the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The report shows that in February, e-book sales in the United States were the top selling format in all publishing categories for the first time ever.
It wasn’t so long ago that many people were turning their noses up at e-readers, claiming that it was more enjoyable to feel the weight of a book in their hands, to caress the paper pages, to smell the freshly printed ink. It was almost as if the actual words in the book were the least important part.
But month by month, more and more bookworms are evidently succumbing to the delights of the e-reader. And there are plenty of advantages too. For starters, e-books are cheaper. Also, you can take hundreds of them with you on vacation. Sure, you’ll only read one or two from your collection, but at least you have a whole library to choose from. Even better, they leave more space on the shelves in your apartment for family photos and obscure ornaments like the one given to you by that friend who recently returned from a trip to Papua New Guinea. OK, it’s true that you can’t really use an e-reader when you’re in the bath, but then again, steam and paper don’t really mix too well either.
The AAP’s monthly report makes sense of data supplied by American publishing houses, with February’s statistics showing that e-books made sales of $90.3m, growing by an astonishing 202.3 percent compared to a year earlier. So either a small number of people are buying a whole lot of books for their Kindles and iPads, or a lot of people are dumping the paperback and turning to e-readers instead. My hunch is that it’s the latter.
Admittedly, paperback sales for February remained strong at $81.2m, and the increase in e-book sales was put down partly to what the AAP’s report calls “a high level of strong post-holiday e-book buying,” but nevertheless one has to wonder if these statistics mark the start of a new chapter when it comes to the reading habits of the American people.