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2013 The Future of Printed Books 

I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day that discussed the future of printed books.  The name of the article was “Don’t Burn Your Books – Print Is Here to Stay."  The article referenced several studies by reputable organizations, including Pew Research, the Association of American Publishers and Bowker’s Market Research.  I visited these sites among others, and reviewed the survey information for myself.  Here is what I found.

A few years ago some mavens were saying that the printed book would be dead by 2015 and replaced by e-readers.  In reality, e-reader sales have slowed markedly, and it looks as though e-readers are being phased out and replaced by tablets like the iPad.  In the survey, they found that 89% of all Americans had read a printed book in the past year, and only 23% had read an ebook.   Over the past year, the percentage of adults who have read an ebook rose modestly from 16% to 23%.  A survey by the Association of American Publishers reported that the rate of growth for e-book readers was 34%.  This sounds like a lot, but the preceding four years had seen triple digit growth rates, so it is a sharp decline in the rate of growth in ebook sales.

What appears to have happened is that early adopters moved to ebooks early, and in a concentrated way.  Bowker Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an ebook, yet  59% of all Americans say they have no interest in purchasing one.

One thing is certain, ebooks sell best for lighter fare, something you only read once, like fiction novels, thrillers and romances.  The kind of book you buy at the airport.  They also provide anonymity since no one can see what you are reading. Another problem is that even if you wanted to you can't easily pass the ebook on to a friend because of content licensing rights and differing content formats.

Fortunately, cookbook authors have far more options and flexibility in writing a cookbook once and offering multiple editions of it in differing formats.  For readers that prefer the heft and durability of “real books," the kind you can set on a shelf, you can order print copies of traditional hard or soft cover books.  For your digitally inclined audience, you can order ebooks for multiple platforms.  Ask us how to mix and match editions for your reading audience.

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