Romance Readers’ Embrace of Ebooks

Ebooks are a much discussed topic in the publishing industry. There is little information available about the exact sales of ebooks from various publishers, but in a 2016 study from, romance ebook sales from Amazon were examined. According to Nielsen (a company that tracks the retail sales of print books), only 4.4 percent of the print books sold were romance. But out of Amazon’s ebook paid sales, 45 percent were romance. And out of all romance sales, an estimated 89 percent are digital copies. So why do romance readers buy so many ebooks?

Some of this can be explained by convenience. Digital books are delivered instantly after purchase and can be bought anywhere with internet access. Print books ordered online take a few days to get to the reader. Moreover, books purchased in person must be from a retailer that sells a book the reader is interested in. Romance readers tend to read a lot and go through content quickly, so it is much easier and more practical to buy digital formats. Especially since it’s possible to use your phone, tablet, laptop, or eReader to read ebooks, and switching between the devices when reading one ebook requires almost no extra effort.

In addition to being convenient, ebooks are also usually cheaper. A typical romance paperback is $7.99, while an ebook is generally $0.99 to $3.99. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading also offer a subscription model beneficial for those always reading something. There are many, many romance books on Kindle Unlimited, which gives readers who subscribe a variety of options, and with Amazon always adding books, readers stay subscribed. Of course, there is always the option to buy used books, but again, readers are limited to what a particular store has in stock.

Romance readers consume content quickly—they read primarily for entertainment and the content is not difficult, so they are able to read faster than someone reading something challenging like a math textbook. Because of this, romance readers tend to read more books, and since ebooks can be released as soon as they are ready (no time is spent waiting for the printer, distributor, shipping to stores, etc.), the production timeline is slightly shorter, although it does depend on what the project needs.

Romance readers likely embraced the ebook format because of their reading habits. Because they read quickly, ebooks offer romance readers many benefits, and so their higher purchasing rates make sense. Romance readers’ response to the ebook means publishers have been expanding their offerings. Publishers consider ebooks less risky since they don’t have to store physical copies, books aren’t physically sent to retailers so there are no freight costs, and retailers won’t return unused copies. Because of their lower risk, publishers have been publishing ebooks they would not publish a print edition of, which means there are more niche options available for romance readers. Self-publishing ebooks on Amazon is also very easy, and many authors are choosing to do this, which means even more variety for readers. Ultimately, romance readers have embraced the digital format, and publishers are offering more options, which means readers will likely keep buying ebooks.

Netflix for Books: Is an eBook Subscription Right for You?

Let’s face it, you either know someone or are someone who subscribes to a monthly video or music service. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify have changed the way users consume digital media. Is it so far-fetched that the same thing could happen for ebooks? There are several companies that are trying their best to convince you that ebook subscription services are the future of reading. They include Scribd, Playster, and the the hulking behemoth that is Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. And while subscription services haven’t taken off in the same way as movies or music, the real question is, are they right for you?

Choosing a service provider can be challenging.Thankfully, they all offer a free thirty-day trial period to dip your toe into the water.

  • Scribd: For $9.99 per month, you gain access to Scribd’s digital library consisting of books and audiobooks. It comes with a catch: Scribd recently changed its subscription policy from unlimited ebooks to a limit of three ebooks and one audiobook per month.
  • Playster: Coming in at $9.95, Playster offers its users access to over 250,000 ebooks and 50,000 audiobooks. Unlike Scribd, Playster offers its users unlimited usage of its titles. They also have a bundle feature, which adds movies, music, and games that come at a reduced price when bought all together.
  • Amazon Kindle Unlimited: At $9.99, Amazon Kindle Unlimited is priced competitively with other subscription services. But with an estimated library of over a million ebooks, Amazon crushes its competitors in terms of selection. In addition to ebooks, users can gain access to audiobooks and magazines.Before you make a decision, it’s important to factor in two things: book selection and your own reading habits. While all of these subscriptions boast, at the very least, hundreds of thousands of titles, you have to take into account that none of the subscription models will carry all the books you may want to read. Hachette, the world’s third largest publisher, has refused to let Amazon carry any of its titles for Kindle Unlimited. Penguin Random House, the world’s largest book publisher, has not made any of its titles available on any subscription services. It’s safe to say that most readers don’t really care where the book they are reading was published, but you may be a little peeved when the hot new fall title isn’t available to you because it was published by someone that your subscription service doesn’t have a contract with.

    The second thing to consider is your own reading habits. Unlike movies or music—which can take a couple of hours to consume—books are a much longer experience. The average ebook costs around $9.99, the same price for most monthly subscriptions. That means you would need to read twelve books a year to just break even. For a voracious reader, this could be the deal of a lifetime. But for the average American who only reads five books per year, you may be throwing your money down the drain. Thankfully, with the free thirty-day trials, you don’t have to commit to anything right away. Who knows, though, maybe an ebook subscription is what you’ve been looking for.