Power on or crack the spine? Turn off or put down? Slide right or turn the page? This is the battle for the hearts and minds of book lovers.
Does the Kindle Spell the End of Books in Print?
The Kindle, so named because the developers likened it to “lighting a fire,” heralded a revolution in the world’s reading habits and changed the face of publishing forever. Sales of in print books peaked in 2007, the same year the Kindle was introduced to the public. Prior to the Kindle, e-books were barely a blip on the radar in the publishing industry. Today, almost 30% of Americans own an e-reader device. What combination of factors could ultimately spell the end of books in print as we know it?
The change in people’s reading habits. The increasing fondness for e-reading has impacted the books in print business, but it has by no means gutted it. What remains to be seen is how the Kindle effect will play out with new generations of readers; those who have been weaned on computers and prefer getting all of their information on a monitor, even a small monitor.
The dearth of retail outlets. Also worrisome is the demise of nearly 2,000 independent book stores since the Internet and electronic publishing took a foothold. Again, each new generation is experiencing an e-world, not a world of bricks and mortar stores. For some children, reading a book on a Kindle is the norm. Going to a real book store and buying a bound, printed book is an oddity. The more people that buy books online and read e-books exclusively; the greater the chance that retail book stores will go the way of the dinosaur.
The cost of publishing. One doe as have to consider the exorbitant costs of print publishing versus electronic publishing. Not to mention the trees. Although both e-books and print books undergo type style, page layout, graphics and similar necessary book design procedures, there’s no getting around the fact that a printed book costs significantly more to produce and ship. Printed books also incur the cost of unsold returns and warehousing.
The Good News for Bound Book Bibliophiles
Some books will never lend themselves to e-readers. The Griffin & Sabine trilogy is a good example; they were tactile art books that required readers to remove letters and postcards in order to read the book; that cannot be replicated electronically. Over sized, glorious art books will never translate well into small e-readers. And, the bound, printed book still holds certain advantages:
They won’t break when dropped.
They don’t need batteries.
They won’t malfunction.
They don’t cost $100 or more to replace.
They will always smell like books.
How do you feel? Would it matter to you if books were no longer available in print? As for me, I still want to curl up in bed with a cup of tea and a real book.
Paulette Zander’s short stories have been published in Crack the Spine, Everyday Fiction, 62nd Stories, Pearce Publications and Flash Fiction World. She is a guest blogger for Evo Cleaning, AV4 Home, Coblands and many other websites. Follow her blog, Ink to You.