The Beatles once wrote about wanting to be a "Paperback Writer." With the rapid decline of the format, one wonders if the song will become meaningless to future generations.
It's more than just ebooks that are eating into the paperback market, although most ebook purchases are books that might otherwise have been bought in the mass-market format.
The mass-market paperback has also been a victim of deep discounting by online retailers.
Amazon, in particular, often deeply discounts the hardcover edition of bestselling ebooks to such an extent that they are only a few pennies to a dollar more expensive than the paperback.
Even retail stores are forced to put deep discounts on new hardcover books to compete.
Retail space for mass market books has also dwindled, cutting into the sales of the format. Stores like Walmart that used to have a healthy stock of mass-market paperbacks have now reduced their purchases of that format in favor of larger and higher-quality trade paper and hardcover books. Even bookstores like B&N have reduced the display space they used to have for mass-market paperbacks.
And finally, for all those readers that don't plan on reading a book more than once, or who don't want an embarrassing copy of the steamy romance they've been reading around the house, ebooks are the solution.