The article below was written by David Vinjamuri, Contributing writer to Forbes.com
It is hard to pick a good book to read online. Not for a lack of choice – over 340,000 books were published in 2011 according to Bowker and that doesn’t include e-books.
The problem is two-fold: first, there are many more books to choose from than in generations past (in 1950, for example, just 11,000 titles were published). Secondly, it’s harder to evaluate whether a book found online is worth reading. Online peer reviews are notoriously unreliable, and although Amazon and other sites have made significant efforts to eliminate biased or untrustworthy reviews, it is still difficult to judge the quality of a book from consumer reviews alone.
I had the opportunity to discuss the problem of online discovery with Peter Hildick-Smith, President of the Codex Group. Codex pioneered the field of book audience research and has interviewed almost 300,000 book buyers since 2004.
Hildick-Smith explained that a book purchase has three meaningful components: availability of the book, discovery by the reader, and conversion to purchase. He noted that the dilemma for publishers is that in the e-book era, “As in-store discovery becomes less of a factor they’re not adding as much value to the equation.” Surprisingly, online sellers – led by Amazon – haven’t been taking up the slack in lost discovery. There are a number of caveats to this conclusion, but first some observations:
Frequent Book Buyers Have Digital Readers
As of December, 2012, nearly two-thirds of frequent book buyers have e-readers or tablets. Codex defines frequent book buyers as those who buy books at least monthly. These buyers who represent about one-fifth of adults (43mm) buy nearly four-fifths of all books (79 percent).
To read the rest of Mr. Vinjamuri’s article, please continue on to the original post.