This weekend the New York Times Best Seller List includes eBooks for the first time. From the numbers eBooks appear to have outsold all print books in the fiction field and dominated the non-fiction purchases as well.
Interestingly, the numbers only include sold books - I am sure if the pirated versions available online would make the numbers even more significant.
Looking at combined sales of print and electronic sales, the top five fiction are the same as the eBook sales, while the print versions - both hardback and paperback show different titles. USA Today had noticed this in their list just after Christmas - suggesting the large purchase of Kindles, iPads, Nooks and the other electronic readers contributed to the swing.
"USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list ... show digital's new popularity: E-book versions of the top six books outsold the print versions last week. And of the top 50, 19 had higher e-book than print sales.
It's the first time the top-50 list has had more than two titles in which the e-version outsold print," the newspaper reported.
The bigger question is how do you share books now without claims of piracy or illegal file sharing. The proprietary nature of the digital readers make it hard to give someone a book when you have finished reading it - something people can and very often do with print versions.
TechDirt notes "apparently, author Scott Turow has recently taken over the Authors Guild, and has decided that ebook "piracy" is a "big problem" that has to be the focus. Perhaps next time the Authors Guild wants to show itself to be forward-looking and able to change with the times, it shouldn't put a 60+ year old lawyer in charge. Just a suggestion."
Books will be shared - if it was easier perhaps there would be less sales, but more reading. This battle, no doubt will become bigger as sharing becomes easier - but at the moment it appears convenience is helping the eBook numbers. Just look at the Best Seller Lists.