Ebooks are a fad, right? Wrong.

Smooth River Rocks
Smooth River Rocks

According to a report the American Association of Publishers (“AAP”) released on April 11, 2013, eBooks now account for 22.55% of U.S. Trade publishers’ net revenue.

That’s an amazing number when you consider that as recently as 2008 eBooks clocked in at less than 2% of those revenues.

Here’s a snippet from the report:

In 2002, those Trade publishers reporting eBooks to AAP noted the format represented 0.05% of their total share of net revenue

By 2006, eBooks were reported as 0.50% of participating Trade publishers’ net revenue; it reached 1.18% by 2008

The following year, the digital transition was underway and percentages reported grew rapidly: from 3.17% (2009) to 16.98% (2011) and now, for 2012, 22.55%

Those three sentences may represent the most understated announcement of a revolution I have ever read. One segment of a billion dollar industry has come from nowhere a few years ago to top the charts.

It is no wonder that the publishing world is in disarray.  An upstart wing of the enterprise has refused to sit down and shut up, to take its place at the back of the bus, to kowtow to the common wisdom.

As AAP put it, “The following year, the digital transition was underway.”

The digital transition was underway? You think?

Transition sounds so mundane, so ordinary, so controlled.

Can you imagine the reviews a novelist would receive if he wrote something like, “Goliath transitioned to the ground when the rock from David’s slingshot hit him between the eyes.” Or, “As Goliath lay on the ground, David transitioned him to the next life.”

I’ve been transitioned a few times and still have the scars to prove it.

The really ironic thing about the meteoric growth of eBooks’ share of the market is that publishers who have pooh-poohed the transition every step of the way are now laughing all the way to the bank.

They didn’t create the revolution, but they are there to share in the spoils.

Of course, all this really means is that business will continue as usual.  The big boys will attempt to control it, the small guys will have to scrap it out and play smarter because of their shallow pockets.

“The digital transition” is one of the most remarkable events in the history of publishing.

What a time to be a writer.

There’s a brook near here with at least five smooth stones in it, I’m sure.


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