MY latest Cooper & Fry novel 'Already Dead' was published about a month ago, and sales figures have been coming in from my publishers while I was out and about meeting readers at events and signings.
This year, for the first time, sales of the ebook edition of 'Already Dead' overtook hardback sales in the first week after publication. There's no denying that ebooks are becoming more and more popular. Digital book sales in this country increased by around 500 per cent for two years running – which can't be said for many other products in the present economic climate!
As an author, I want my books to be available in every format readers want them in, and that obviously includes every type of ebook, as well other new formats like digital audio downloads.
And ereaders like the Amazon Kindle are certainly very convenient. If you're going on holiday, you can take as many books with you as you want, all tucked neatly into one pocket. I find many older readers like the Kindle, because they can increase the size of the text to suit their eyesight.
And because my publishers release the book edition on the same day as the hardback, readers who placed advance orders found that when they switched on their Kindles on publication day, the book had arrived automatically. It's like magic.
And yet… I know there are lots of readers out there who still prefer the feel of a physical book in their hands. I do too!
And as long as there are readers like us, I've no doubt that print books will continue to thrive. This is vital, of course, if we're going to keep bookshops on our high streets.
When 'Already Dead' was published, I did a signing as usual at our local independent bookshop, Bookworm, who have supported me from the beginning of the Cooper & Fry series and were present when my first book 'Black Dog' was launched. It was wonderful to spend a couple of hours in the shop and chat to a continuous stream of readers who couldn't wait to get the new hardback in their hands. That sort of contact between reader and author is very valuable, and I know it's appreciated by readers as much as it by me.
If print books were to disappear, the sad fact is that I wouldn't be sitting in a bookshop ready to sign your Kindle when a new book came out. There wouldn't even be a bookshop for me to sit in.
So if, like me, you want to see books flourishing in all their forms, it's vital to support the booksellers who continue to be the mainstay of the publishing business.
And remember – bookshops pay their taxes too!