E-books, in other words, may turn out to be just another format—an even lighter-weight, more disposable paperback. That would fit with the discovery that once people start buying digital books, they don’t necessarily stop buying printed ones. In fact, according to Pew, nearly 90% of e-book readers continue to read physical volumes. The two forms seem to serve different purposes.
Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay by Nicholas Carr
I’ve done quite a bit of study on the rise of the E-book for another class, and these sorts of articles never fail to interest me. Even as a member of the “I just love the feel of a real book” club, I understand that there are benefits of E-books that just can’t be denied. Even so, I just talked to an old friend last week who said she bought a Nook but just couldn’t get used to it. “Maybe I’ll just use it to look for books I want to buy in print.”
This article makes some interesting points, including the fact that most E-book sales are digital versions of mass market paperbacks. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea. So if people are buying E-books of more “disposable” types of reading, then the continuance of print dominance makes sense. For books that people want to keep around and read over and over, it would seem that most prefer a real deal paper copy.
There’s still a problem for avid book fans, however. According to Publisher’s Weekly, print sales have fallen pretty consistently from 2010 to 2012. E-books might not be destroying the print publishing business but something is definitely giving it some pain.
So are people just not reading? Do people view buying books (or reading in general) as a luxury they can’t afford? Barnes and Noble have been shutting down bookstores like crazy (for various reasons that might even harm E-book sales). We readers and writers need a revolution, but it’s seeming more and more impossible.
So after this mix of promise and gloom/doom, What are we left with? Probably just more confusion on the topic. The future is hazy, but there has to be something we can do.
At the very least, buy a book. Buy one to gift or to enjoy or just to look classy on your shelf. Buy one from a physical store preferably, but just buy one from anywhere… even Amazon if you ABSOLUTELY MUST, which may very well be causing this tragic downturn in everything book (I can say this because, as a poor college student, I know that Amazon’s prices are the best there are out there and I know that some people simply can’t afford anything else). And if you’re a booky person start brainstorming because we need a revolution.