I’m sure many of you heard of today’s news about how adult fiction eBooks outsold hardcover books in 2011 for the very first time. While this Reuters article claims that print books of all kinds – hardcover, mass market and trade paperback – still outnumber eBooks in sales, today’s report has made it clear that eBooks are here to stay and their popularity could more than likely continue to rise in the future.
As a result, writers and readers across the board are probably wondering if print books will become obsolete in the years to come. For example, take a look at CDs. Ever since the iPod came along and music lovers could download whatever song they wanted off the Internet, sales of CDs went down. I remember going to Best Buy ten years ago and having no problem finding the CDs. There were endless rows of them and I would spend a long while checking out the various artists that were displayed. Nowadays, when I buy CDs for my parents, I have to hunt for that section. Those endless rows of various genres have now been reduced to three or four rows altogether. Even the CD section of my local Target has been rearranged to accommodate the poor demand for them. It almost looks pathetic to even have a CD section in a major store because not too many people need them anymore. Why spend $14.99 on something that you could get online for $9.99? Better yet, why buy an entire CD because you like one song from someone when you could easily get that sole song online?
This simplistic attitude is much like readers who choose to read their stories off eBooks. It is easier to store several books on a device rather than to pack all of them for a trip. It also prevents anyone from knowing what a person is reading because no device advertizes the book cover for the public to see (hence why so many women feel at ease reading Fifty Shades of Grey). Ebooks are also a lot slimmer than a book, the spots to place them are kind of endless. For example, if a woman reads an eBook while traveling to work, she could easily slip the device into her shoulder bag once she reaches her stop. With a print book, she would have to worry about squeezing it into her bag and hope it doesn’t get damaged.
Those are good points, I admit. But there is nothing like holding a book in your hands. The aroma of the pages. The excitement of turning the pages during a suspenseful scene. It feels more intimate, I think, to use a traditional book to do your reading. I don’t think you can get that from a digital screen.
But time will tell. There are some humans who adapt to the changing times and go with the flow. I do think by the end of this decade, books will be like those CD sections in Best Buy and Target. Sad, especially since there is nothing like going to a bookstore and spending a day there. But it is highly possible.
I don’t want to start lamenting over the beginning of the end of books, really I don’t! I do think there is hope that the print book will survive this digital revolution. I may be dead wrong, though. Humans evolve, we always have. And who knows, maybe down the road the eBook will open new doors for everyone – and not just indie authors like me. This is a journey we are all on, and I have to admit, it could be both scary and exciting at the same time. So, let’s fasten our safety belts and hang on tight!