Paperback Sales of Hiking Books Increase (vis-a-vis) Kindle Sales as Hiking Season Approaches
“I can’t believe it,” I have often exclaimed to friends. I sell two or three times as many units on Kindle as I do paperbacks. For a technophobe like myself, that is amazing. But heck, the logic of e-books is overwhelming. The customer pays approximately 30% of the price, the author makes more, and so does poor Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Win-win-win. And the customer gets it right away.
I have yet to see any statistics on an e-reader customer, versus a paperback customer. My guess, though, is that the e-reader is more likely to read the book very fast. I have noticed a pattern of my sales picking up in the evening hours; e-readers are probably curious souls prone to trolling the internet at night entertaining a wide variety of options.
My guess is the paperback reader fits a different profile. This is a person who wants to immerse himself or herself more deeply in the topic. That brings me back to the topic of this post. My paperback sales have picked up the last couple months, while my Kindle sales have been stable. The same thing happened last year. This makes sense. I write outdoor adventure narratives (Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, and The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago). Presumably, many of the purchasers of these books are planning journeys themselves–but specifically, those who buy paperbacks. They are trying to get a sense of direction and fill in the details for their long, hopefully life-changing journeys ahead. They want the book as a standby to consult when planning equipment decisions, food drops, timetables, etc. So they are willing to pay the higher price that a paperback entails. It is all very logical.
I read Appalachian Trail narratives galore before beginning my thru-hike in 2005, and did the same with the Pacific Crest Trail (2009) and Camino de Santiago (2010, 2011, 2012). I prefer the ones in which the author lets the story give off the nuggets of wisdom, as opposed to how-to books. But I can honestly say that I have gleaned useful knowledge from every single trail narrative I have ever read. Because I was so green before beginning my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, many have joked that it was as much about what NOT to do, as what to do. I hardily accept their critique.
Bill Walker is the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago (2012). Walker, who is nearly 7-feet tall, is currently working on a whimsical book on the subject of height.