For years, traditional book publishers have hoped that standalone e-readers — Kindles, Nooks, and the like — would be their salvation, replacing paper-and-ink books as the diversion of choice for a new generation of readers. But several new data points suggest that's not happening. In fact, it seems clearer than ever that the future of reading isn't on reading devices at all. It's on your phone.
Last year, for the first time, publishers made more money from digital book sales than sales from brick-and-mortar bookstores, according to a new survey by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. This tipping point had been expected by publishers for a long time. And it's not too ominous, on its own. After all, even though Amazon isn't easy to work with, it's still selling a lot of books. And under the current sales terms, e-books are still plenty profitable for publishers.
But there's another piece of bad news: The e-book market is changing, too. Increasingly, when people read e-books, they're doing it on their existing tablets and smartphones, not on devices built expressly for reading.