A friend passed along a recent study that looks at electronic bookworms. As if I didn’t know it already, I ain’t one. “Today’s e-book power buyer, someone who buys an e-book at least once a week, is a 44-year-old woman who loves romance and is spending more on buying books now than in the past.” Seems I strike out on all counts.
The profile is based on a survey by something called the Book Industry Study Group. It shows that while women make up 66% of e-book “power buyers,” in 2009, they were just 49% of e-book customers. The “power buyers,” meanwhile, make up about 18% of the total people buying e-books today but buy a stunning 61% of all e-books purchased. Perhaps not surprisingly, 40 percent of e-book buyers say they are buying fewer books in print. The survey also indicates that 58% of all books sold are fiction and that literary fiction, science fiction, and romance each comprise over 20% of all e-book purchases, (To me, that indicates fiction accounts for more than 60% of all e-books sold but I don’t have access to the survey itself to explain the difference in numbers.)
While I may not be a “power buyer,” my habits are changing. Last year, e-books were about 14 percent of the books I read. This year, they’ve accounted for nearly 25%, although I read about one-third of them during my recent vacation that included more than 24 hours on airplanes and in airports. Additionally, before our vacation I upgraded to a color nook and my wife is thoroughly addicted to her “hand-me-down” nook. (She has better taste than romance novels, though.) Still, the number of print books I’ve purchased this year exceeds the number of e-books I’ve purchased or read.
While I am adapting to the e-book world, I know that for books I “really” want, I want something I can touch and feel and smell. I can see e-books as a convenience for traveling or for what I might call “routine” reads (still a horrible description). I just am too old, though, to become an e-book worm.
I feel guilty every time I look up from my iPad and see the hundreds of books lining my walls, looking at me like Woody and Buzz watching Andy discover video games.
Ezra Klein, “Will books survive e-books?“