Friday, August 9, 2013

Surprising trends in electronic publishing

Regardless of what kind of e-materials their libraries carry, librarians do tend to look at the trends in e-publishing with interest.
Several months back, it was noted on this blog that e-book growth seemed to be stalling significantly.  Culture and technology watcher Nicholas Carr, in his post The flattening of e-book sales, notes that the trend continues:
“The Association of American Publishers reports that in the first quarter of 2013, e-book sales in the U.S. trade market grew by just 5 percent over where they were in the same period in 2012. The explosive growth of the last few years has basically petered out, according to the AAP numbers (see graph)”

In another surprise, the Wall Street Journal recently reported about The New Explosion in Audio Books
“Audio books have gone mass-market.  Sales have jumped by double digits in recent years.  Shifts in digital technology have broadened the pool of potential listeners to include anyone with a smartphone.”
The detailed article also reports on some of the unique approaches of some of the newer audiobooks, including the creation of works that feature only as audiobooks, “ranging from full-cast dramatizations in the style of old school radio plays, complete with music and sound effects, to young adult novels, thrillers and multipart science fiction epics.”  Other innovations include the ability for persons to switch between an e-book and the audio version, picking up the story in either fashion wherever they left off.   As such, the article also explores how, for many, the line between listening to a book and reading it is disappearing.

Also worthy of note for academic libraries: even as many academic libraries move to make serious academic books available through e-book databases, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Students Prefer Print for Serious Academic Reading.  Reasons given for this are the distraction caused by embedded links, an inability to interact with the content as easily as printed texts, and perhaps, the students report, not having used e-books when they were younger. 

Graph from Nicholas Carr’s blog:

Audiobook image from here: By Nicola Einarson 

Studying image from here: by merchau