Wednesday, 14 March 2012

One more gripe

The newspapers are saying that E-books are skewing the book ratings. It seems that because digital sales are known only to Amazon and its equivalents, we have little idea what the UK is reading. This, they say, makes it difficult for publishers and agents to assess the market accurately, and doubly difficult to invest in the future. How can they tell what is the coming trend, except by having complete sales figures?

Amazon declines to share its sales figures. It has released a list of the top ten British e-book best-sellers, but keeps the figures to itself. Genre fiction – thrillers, romance – are selling well thanks to e-books, and they say that people buy three times the titles they once did now they have an electronic reader. I know I do.

The US and the EU may decide to break up the system whereby publishers set the price at which electronic books are sold, thus keeping the price high. Since the NBA on print books was abolished decades ago, that seems only fair to me, even though I was against the NBA when it came in.

2011 saw a 500 per cent increase in e-book sales, and a similar increase is expected this year. (I guess Amazon must have released the numbers for last year, but perhaps only totals?) There is an interesting rumour that women’s commercial fiction now has a male readership because of the anonymity of e-books. I never hesitated to read whatever I wanted to read – ah, but I have to admit I drew the line at reading category romances in public! Those covers! But that too is probably irrelevant now. I can read whatever I want on my Kindle, in public or out of it, and the only person who will know is me.

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