Five reasons Amazon e-books are outselling hardcovers

A look at the advantages of e-books, as Amazon reports that Kindle sales are outpacing hardcover books.

Are you still holding out to see what happens with this whole ebooks "fad" before deciding whether to embrace it for your business? Well, the times they are a changin' and there are a variety of reasons that ebooks are outpacing printed books.

Amazon reports that ebook sales are three times higher than last year, and that Kindle versions of books have outsold their hardcover equivalents by 43 percent over the last quarter. The traditional written word printed on paper will not be fading to oblivion any time soon, but here are five factors contributing to the success of the ebook:

1. Cost. While the introduction of competing platforms, and an uprising among publishers has led to more variable, and slightly higher pricing of e-books, in general they are still cheaper than the printed equivalent--whether hardcover or paperback.

2. Portability. With a Kindle, or an iPad, or a Nook, or any of the various other e-reader devices, you can carry an entire library with you. Rather than trying to decide which book to take with you, you can have your whole library a click or touch away. The standard Kindle can hold up to 1,500 books--certainly enough variety to keep you busy while commuting to work, or even on an extended trip.

3. Accessibility. E-books can be purchased or downloaded anywhere your e-reader device can get a connection to the Internet. If you finish a traditional book and need something new to read, you would need to actually go to a book store or order a new book online and wait for it to arrive. With e-books, you can surf your options online and have the new book in a matter of seconds.

4. Cross-Platform. Many of the e-reader platforms provide apps for a variety of platforms. Aside from the Kindle device itself, Amazon offers apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and Mac OS X. You can access your library from virtually any device, and the Kindle software will sync across the various platforms to mark your page in the book and keep your notes and bookmarks up to date.

Conversely, a device like the iPad provides access to various e-reader platforms. With just the iPad, you can read books in Apple's iBooks, or the Amazon Kindle app, or the Barnes and Noble eReader app. Because the different e-book formats can all be accessed through their separate apps, the iPad offers a single device capable of reading them all and accessing each book store from anywhere the iPad can connect to the Internet.

5. Conservation. E-books provide conservation in two ways. The first is the typical green, save the Earth, stop killing trees just to print books that will eventually populate landfills when you're done reading them sort of conservation. There is certainly some validity to those concerns.

The second method of conservation, though, is the conservation of space and clutter. Books take up space. The more you have, the more shelves you need. When you want to find a specific book, you have to sift through boxes and shelves to find it.

With e-books, you don't kill any trees, and the world is a greener place. More importantly for many people--your library won't need its own room (or a separate apartment), and a simple search of your e-reader can locate the title you're looking for in a matter of seconds.

I haven't even gone into some of the other advantages of e-books. For example, being able highlight and annotate the book without ruining it in the process, or being able to research footnote references with a single click rather than having to manually find the resource and look it up.

There is still something about having an actual book in your hand. But, as time goes on, the books in my house are more like room décor to make me look and feel smarter, while the books I actually read are housed in my e-reader.

You can follow Tony on his Facebook page , or contact him by email at tony_bradley@pcworld.com . He also tweets as @Tony_BradleyPCW .

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