Writer’s Cramp: In the E-Reader Era, a Book a Year is Slacking

On May 12, 2012 Julie Bosman of the New York Times reports on the rise of technology influencing (negatively) hard copy books.  What exactly does this mean?  With electronic book sales increasing rapidly, making book-lovers’ favorite pastime more convenient, hard-copy books are not necessary to lug around.  Pages do not need to be physically flipped, nor does a book-lover need an over-sized bag to carry multiple books at once: just in case one isn’t enough.

Kindle and Nook sales increased over 100% in 2011 to about $969 million.  Also in 2011, total book sales – electronic books, scholarly books, etc. – rose to about $11.6 billion.  Meanwhile pocket books decreased by about 36%.  They appear to be a category fading out and replaced by quality paperbacks or e-books.  According to Julie Bosman, “[Authors] are trying to satisfy impatient readers who have become used to downloading any e-book they want at the touch of a button, and the publishers who are nudging them toward greater productivity in the belief that the more their authors’ names are out in public, the bigger stars they will become.”  On a chain of readers to books, books to authors, and authors to publishers, technology/e-books has reduced the love in this chain and replaced love with convenience and stardom.

Although technology has significantly decreased book sales, it also provides benefits for e-readers: social media.  As Bosman suggests, the Internet allows readers to develop a more intimate relationship with their favorite authors, who they can follow through blogging, Twitter, and Facebook websites.  Also despite the stardom, which seems to be the main goal of authors, many authors do not just write digital-only stories for the money.  However the disproportional amount of revenue that authors do receive does cause some authors like Steve Berry, a popular thriller writer, “It does sap away some of your energy.  You don’t ever want to get into a situation where your worth is being judged by the amount of your productivity.”

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels was released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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