Electronic books have been around for decades, but they have only become popular in the past few years with the development of dedicated e-readers. Consumers were reluctant at first to give up the familiarity of holding a physical book, turning each page and smelling the aroma of worn paper. New features of technology are persuading more people to switch from paperbacks to digital print. As a greater amount of consumers realized the benefits of e-books, sales increased and publishing companies embraced new avenues of marketing their authors and books.
E-books benefit consumers through accessibility, size and convenience. An electronic publishing company can sell its books anywhere online so that all consumers with Internet access can purchase them. People can store e-books on computers, laptops, e-readers and mobile devices, and this versatility adds convenience for the user. These electronic devices become virtual libraries that can house hundreds or possibly thousands of books. About 200 books take up 250 megabytes, and readers have the option of upgrading their devices to hold even more. Most e-readers feature built-in dictionaries that allow the user to highlight a word and find the definition with one click. This feature eliminates the need for physical reference dictionaries and improves comprehension. Schools are starting to incorporate e-books to replace heavy textbooks that children have to lug around.
With digital copies of books, consumers can purchase them any time of day from any location. E-books eliminate trips to bookstores and are easily searchable through virtual means. Online bookstores will never run out of inventory because their customers only have to download the electronic copies.
Publishing e-books is simpler and more cost-effective than their physical counterparts. Electronic publishers can target a much larger market while increasing the accessibility of their books. With traditional means, a publishing company would have to cover the costs of printing and marketing a book long before any profits come in. The whole process can take months or years to complete, and publishers risk thousands of dollars that may not be recovered. Publishing an e-book eliminates the costs of printing and paper, so the company only has to cover the costs of marketing and possibly a percentage of profits to the virtual bookstore. With reduced initial costs, publishers can take more chances with new authors and market more books for greater returns. Electronic publishers can also join the trend of green solutions by taking advantage of paper-free publishing.
When looking at book sales from 2011, the figures for physical books decreased by five percent. E-books made up eight percent of total sales, and these data imply that consumers are slowly switching to electronic versions. Publishers that switch to digital formats now will be at an advantage as e-books continue to gain popularity. Authors will also benefit from choosing electronic publishers because they receive more revenue when their publishers sell more books.
E-books are enhancing the publishing industry rather than replacing it. They provide an efficient method of publication with reduced costs, greater audiences and more profitable returns. Publishing companies can still earn significant revenue even if their books are not best sellers. Consumers, authors and publishers all benefit from the accessibility of electronic books.
Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her @CedesPotter.