The Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers puts the brakes on expectations for ebook growth. Not to say that ebooks aren’t a growing segment of the market–that’s obvious on its face. But the audiences are so large (even for something as supposedly marginal as books) that each percentage point of change represents a whole lot of people, all of whom seem to rush to the internet to proclaim their love/disdain for their new readers.
But the people still reading in print still make up the bulk of the book buyers and they will be for years yet. As Nelson mentions above, more than 50% of music buyers still buy their music on CD.
I’m one of those people. I don’t buy very much music, but when I do it’s not through iTunes or other download sites, and I don’t put it on an iPod or other mp3 player. My wife has an iPod, but she uses it to listen to TED Talks, Planet Money podcasts and other NPR shows, when she uses it at all. There’s no music on it at all.
But I’m a dinosaur. I admit it. I don’t even have a cell phone. I don’t have anything against Kindles, et al; in fact I love them, because they allow my sister, the person who turned me into a sf/f lover, to read my novels. Her stroke had left her unable to hold a paper book open, but that’s not a problem with her new Kindle.
Paper and electronic books will eventually reach a balance, and no one posting to the internet right now knows when we’ll reach it. They’re only able to guess (and claim prescience if they hit the target) and the final figures will be determined by factors that no one can predict.