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Five signs that e-books are here to stay

If e-books were the new family on the block in 2010, they're putting down roots and settling in for good in 2011. Here are five reasons why you can be sure that e-books are here to stay. - Husna Haq

AP

1. Amazon sells more e-books than paperback or hardcover books.

That's right, in late January Amazon announced that sales of Kindle e-books are outpacing paperback sales. For every 100 paperbacks sold in 2010, Amazon sold 115 Kindle e-books. Kindle e-books had already started outselling hardcover books in July 2010 (for every 100 hardcover books, Amazon said it sold 143 e-books). That means e-books are the most popular format on Amazon, one of the biggest booksellers in the country.

New York Times senior editor, Janet Elder
New York Times senior editor, Janet Elder

2. New York Times will add e-book bestsellers.

Starting this week, you'll see a new category in The New York Times bestsellers lists: e-books. Acknowledging the growing popularity of e-books, the Times said it spent the last two years creating a system to track e-book sales. "We've had our eye on e-book sales since e-books began," said Janet Elder, editor of news surveys and election analysis, in The New York Times. "It was clear that e-books were taking a greater and greater share of total sales, and we wanted to be able to tell our readers which titles were selling and how they fit together with print sales."

3. KindleLendingClub

Soon after Amazon launched its Kindle lending feature in December 2010, Canadian Catherine MacDonald, sketched out an idea, raised startup capital, hired Web developers and launched KindleLendingClub, an online Kindle library that matches lenders and borrowers of Kindle e-books. Kindle users must register on the site, then post books they want to lend or submit a request to borrow one -- all free. Though the site is easy to use, Amazon's policies are restrictive. Only Kindle books that are lending-enabled can be loaned, they must be loaned by one Kindle user to another, the loan period is 14 days, and each e-book can only be loaned once. Still, it's a wonderful way to connect e-book readers across the country and create an e-book community.

AP

4. E-reader ownership tripled last year.

Though the e-reader segment is still small, it's growth isn't: e-reader ownership nearly tripled last year, to about eight percent, and it's likely to reach 13 to 15 percent this year, according to Verso Digital's 2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior. The survey also found that 80 percent of respondents were very likely or somewhat likely to buy e-books from independent booksellers if priced competitively. Separately, several major publishers recently confirmed that e-books had climbed to about 10 percent of their total sales. "Some publishing experts have predicted that they will rise to 25 percent in the next two to three years," the New York Times recently reported.

5. Google's in on the Game.

The recently launched Google e-books allows readers to buy books directly from Google or from online retailers, add their books to an online library connected to their Google account, and access it on any device with an internet connection. In a single move, Google introduced an e-book 2.0 of sorts, transforming most any device with a web browser (personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and yes, the Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook) into an e-book reader. If Google wants in, it's gotta be big.

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Comments (3)

Regarding #1: "Amazon sells more e-books than paperback or hardcover books" That only includes Amazon's paperback books. It does not include supermarket sales, airport sales, etc. I suspect the electronic book total includes "free books" that are in the public domain. Still impressive, but not "more electronic books sold than paperbacks" that most headlines have touted.

Inviting you e-book readers to check out a new spiritual suspense memoir that will rock your life! It is called Graffiti On My Soul by Johanna; it is the oddysey of a young nun, her later marriage and the descent of her life into a time of horror. Readers say that it reads like an Agatha Christie novel, but the words are so beautiful they sound like music. Graffiti on My Soul is lyrical, funny, raw, mystical,and a profound journey of hope and forgiveness. Check it out on Amazon, Kindle, etc. book clubs and readers!

I have to question to some extent the value of the ebook "sales" report. I bought my Nook back in September and currently have about 75 books in my library. I haven't spent a cent on any of them - however they are still documented as "sales" (price $0.00).
A better meands of comparison might be actual revenue from the sales, where ebooks could be lagging far behind bricks and mortar sales.