Alive and Well Between the Covers: Books Continue to be Relevant

Remember how the internet was going to kill the paper office? Take a look around and see if you think that’s true.

Now look at your bookshelves. The internet hasn’t killed books either. And while e-books are increasingly popular, the good old-fashioned words printed on paper between covers books are still going strong.

True, Amazon’s Kindle reader continues to show strong sales. Ditto Barnes & Noble’s Nook. And the iPad surprised everyone with its bullish sales, though only part of that is because it is an e-reader.

But despite the ubiquity of those electronic book devices, books are still here, and are still going strong. That despite the predictions of some media-watchers that they would disappear completely by 2015.

A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that, in fact, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Sales of e-books are decreasing, as are the sales of e-readers, at least those that (unlike the iPad and its ilk) serve no other purpose. According to estimates from the market research firm IHS iSuppli, sales of e-readers dropped 36% in 2012, while tablet sales exploded.

A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have “no interest” in buying one. And even those who remain on the cutting edge of technology also buy “real” books—according to the Pew Research Center, nearly 90% of e-book readers continue to read physical volumes

What does all this mean for authors and potential authors? It means that the death of books was greatly exaggerated, and writing and publishing a book in its traditional format still has merit. That’s especially true for non-fiction, business books, and the like. Much of the growth of e-books came at the expense of paperback fiction. Heartier fare still maintains its edge in the physical book world.

That’s especially relevant given the numerous self-published books we assist with in the realms of cookbooks, memoirs, and business books. It’s in those areas that we see continued growth and utility. Books such as these serve as introductions for the authors, as attention-getters, as credibility-boosters. Books continue to be a wonderful means to advance your validity as an expert in your field, as a way to boost your visibility in the marketplace, and to gain attention from the media.

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