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Amazon eBook Sales Surpass Print Book Sales in the UK

“Amazon said it had sold 114 ebooks for every 100 print books in the UK so far this year.”

That news comes from ZDnet and it’s very good news for content marketers. Here in the US, ebook sales topped print sales in May 0f 2011. But Kindle EU chief Jorrit Van der Meulen said that it took four years after the release of the Kindle to hit that mark in the US. It only took two years to get there in the UK.

What it means is that more and more people are ready to make the switch to digital assets and not just in books. Digital music has nearly replaced the CD. Digital movie downloads are now taking a bite out of the DVD market and when was the last time you bought a hard copy of a piece of software?

For authors and publishers, the digital revolution means you can get from concept to reader in a short period of time. No more print runs, no more warehousing or overstocks. It means a publisher can afford to put out a niche book and wait for sales because there’s no end to the shelf life. Make no mistake, the cost of producing an excellent ebook can be just as expensive as creating one in print, but that should change as we get more systems in place and people change their notion of acceptable price points.

But while ebook authors are climbing the profit ladder, newspaper publishers are still struggling.  PaidContent.org created a chart showing the decline in UK newspaper subscriptions compared to the rise in online users. The tipping point was around November 2010. At that point, online crossed over subscriptions. Since then, subscriptions have continued to decline at a steady rate, while online reader growth is accelerating.

This sounds like good news, right?

Yes, and no. It’s good because, once again, it proves that online content is a valuable commodity. How valuable is the problem. The majority of newspapers have traded subscription dollars for free views online. They’ve attempted to capitalize on the traffic with online ad sales but still, they’re ending up in the red. Take a look at this chart posted by Reflections of a Newsosaur:

It’s looking bad for newspapers. But why? Why are we willing to spend $1.99 on a digital mystery novel but not on the daily news. You could say it’s because news is all over the web, so why pay for it? But by that token, there are plenty of free books available, too. People buy books because they want that author’s take on a story. Shouldn’t we be buying into newspapers for the same reason? Or are we long past the days where people looked forward to reading the work of a single columnist.

Books or newspapers, it’s all words, but while ebook authors are gaining fame and fortune, the well-respected journalist is becoming a thing of the past. As both an ebook author and a journalist, that makes me sad.

What do you think? Why are ebooks thriving (without ads) while newspapers can’t make a dime online?