September 5, 2011

The decline of the Mass Market Paperback is now abundantly evident. Sales of this once-popular format, by total sales revenue, declined by 13.8% between 2008 and 2010. As a recent New York Times article points out, these “guilty pleasures” of the book world are now an endangered species. In fact, many in-demand mass-market authors are seeing their work go upscale and published as trade paperbacks, a format historically reserved for literary works.
At the same time, eBooks have grown from 0.6% of the total market share in 2008 to 6.4% in 2010 — still a small percentage of the total, but with impressive growth rates (1274.1% of net sales revenue year-over-year during that same period). And in Adult Fiction, eBooks are now 13.6% of the net revenue market share.
After much hype in the early ’90s (which I witnessed firsthand at Microsoft), the eBook revolution is finally upon us.
Not, of course, without some tradeoffs. Indeed, I struggle with introducing “digital distractions” into “Butcher, Baker,” knowing that by their very nature they change the reading experience. But leaving them out ignores the inherent capabilities of this new medium to redefine storytelling. The latter may prove to be the more powerful force over the long haul.

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