British spellings of "cannibalize" notwithstanding, let me just say: I'm 0% surprised by this.
I feel for you, J.E. Medrick (see yesterday's comments), but as I've said before, I just don't see how the mass market format can survive over the next five or so years.
The mass market paperback offers the following:
· Low price point;
· Relative portability;
· Higher disposability (readers are more willing to chuck a mass market paperback than a trade paperback or hardcover);
· Wide availability (book stores, grocery stores, department stores, drug stores, &c).
The e-book offers the following:
· Low (on average) price point (and getting lower);
· High portability;
· High disposability (though you wouldn't need to, since e-book files occupy no physical and very little digital space);
· Wide availability (at least in the United States).
Additionally, both formats are dominated by adult (as opposed to children's) fiction and cater to similar audiences (middle-aged women).
I think once the price of e-readers (specifically the Kindle) consistently drops below the $100 mark, mass market paperback sales will start taking a real beating. To my mind, the only barrier to the complete cannibalization of mass market paperback sales by electronic books—in the United States, anyway—is the price of the e-reading device; remove that, and there's no reason to keep the mass market around. Print runs of any real quantity will rapidly become a waste of money, and I don't think anyone would really want a POD mass market paperback when they could just as easily get a POD trade paperback.
While I do think the mass market will physically exist for longer than five years, I think that existence will be limited to personal libraries and used book stores.
What do you think, ladies and gentlebros?