Reading Online & Off

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According to the Salt Lake Tribune's recent article, book sales are down, despite an increase in titles. With 175,000 different books to choose from, readers purchased 44 million fewer books in 2004. That's a decrease of about 2% of total book sales (2.295 billion in 2004 vs 2.339 billion in 2003).

On the other hand, Kansas City infozine's latest survey shows that about 6% of American adults have created blogs and 1 in 6 read blogs.

I wonder if there is a correlation to be found here?

If more people are writing for a public audience through their weblogs perhaps they are gaining confidence and skill that lets them cross to the world of paper publishing. It can't hurt to show a publisher web stats that prove you have an audience who is likely to buy your book. That might explain the increase in titles.

The statistics might also explain the decrease in sales. Weblog readers have become used to a free reading experience. If 1/6th of Americans find reading weblogs satisfying, they might be decreasing their available time and desire to read physical books. Why pay for a book when you get stuff just as good for free online?

I'm not saying that weblogs equal books. I enjoy both and know they are different experiences. But maybe readers with limited time or budget don't see the difference as clearly--it all adds up to "reading" for them. And that might explain the decrease in book sales.

Only greed can account for the 2.8% increase in revenue for the book publishers, though.

1 Comment

I hate reading from the screen. I don't know how people read books on their phones.

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  • Jenn: I hate reading from the screen. I don't know how read more