The coming of e-books definitely changed the publishing landscape forever, but the assumption that e-books will soon replace hardcopy books completely may be rather premature. It turns out that 2014 e-book sales actually took a bit of a dip. Though it's a small one, these figures show that e-books are not exactly on an unstoppable upward trajectory toward taking over the world.
During the first half of 2014, e-books accounted for about 23 percent of U.S. book sales, which were already slightly down from their market share during the first half of 2013. But it seems that in the second half of the year e-book sales continued to dip down, not making up only 21 percent of unit sales in the book world. Paperbacks, meanwhile, went up slightly, now making up 43 percent of books sold. Hardcovers on the other hand are holding steady at 25 percent.
What all this means, of course, to people who are not booksellers, is that the world of books is a lot more diverse than people tend to realize. Not only do book-lovers read all different types of books, from mysteries to romance to literary fiction, but the formats in which we read our books vary as well. Rather than e-books slowly taking over the market, e-books simply continue to be one of several popular options for how to experience books. This year, they're slightly less popular; next year they might be slightly up again. Regardless, the digital and old-school options appear to be are coexisting rather than trying to edge each other out.
In fact, it's also worth noting that, for all their hype as the future of the book world, e-books don't even represent half of all books sold — and neither do paperbacks or hardcovers or any other book format. Instead, they all share smaller slices of the pie. It's not about who dominates the market, but rather about lots of different mediums coexisting.
Maybe we can all stop being freaked out that we're going to lose our precious hard copies, or being upset that paperbacks and hardcopies are holding back e-books, and instead acknowledge that it really doesn't matter how other people like to read their books. The book-lover tent is a big one; there's room for all of us.