It has happened. Amazon now sell 105 electronic books for every 100 physical books of all types. And that doesn’t include downloads of free titles. For two years I’ve been predicting the end of the mass market printed book and the slide is even faster than I imagined.
Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years: Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.
Books, apart from specialist tomes and historic volumes, will be a curiousity by 2020. However much traditionalists claim that they like the feel and experience of reading a “real” book, they will eventually give in and buy a Kindle. Things move more rapidly than in the days of vinyl records, VHS tapes, cassettes and CDs. The CD, the last bastion of recorded music, is well on the way to oblivion but the demise of the printed book is now even more rapid and dramatic. I have absolutely no sentimental attachment to printed volumes which are heavy, inconvenient and take up too much space. Roll on the time when ebooks triumph and we are no longer expected to subsidise the wasteful and expensive production and distribution of old technology.