Bookstores and publishers beware! The world no longer needs you. Books are passé, out of touch, not user-friendly!
Books, those many papered pages of printed material we drag to and fro with us, tucked under our arm or in pocket or purse or are at death’s door!
Maybe it’s true. Along with the demise of the newspaper, printed and bound books are being replaced by e-books that dismal technology failure introduced in the late 20th century. E-books were literally ignored back then. No one wanted to download a book off the Internet, print it on a printer and have reams of loose paper lying on their desk. Worse, no one wanted to read 200 pages on a computer monitor. The promise of a simpler, easier, cheaper way to own a book was not met and the general public turned its nose up at e-books.
E-books are making a comeback. Today, the tech-savvy among us are willing to download a book in PDF form, to be read at our convenience. After all, an e-book contains the same information as a printed book, generally. And, major publishers have added a clause to assign e-book rights to themselves whenever they can. E-books have become the darling of the net-set, accepted for their convenience and low-cost.
This popularity comes on the heels of more user-friendly hardware. Using a Kindle, or Sony digital reader, it’s now possible to create an entire library of your own – packaged in an easy to read format, taken on bus, train, plane, even to the beach! Although, we are talking costly hardware, here; the Sony reader runs approximately $299.99 and the ‘new’ Kindle runs $359.00. That price tag might make one think twice about taking it to the beach. By the way, Kindle is popular with a demographic that may surprise you, according to this recent TIME article.
Is it true, then? Is the printed book dying a slow death? Will our children and grandchildren look at our home libraries, screw up their little faces and ask, “Grandma, why do you have all these musty smelling books around?”
Not really. The printed book stands as a respected, coveted, even treasured possession. It’s a companion, a good friend, and though silent in its attendance, it speaks louder than the noon whistle, louder than the shouting of tourists hailing a cab, even louder than that unhappy infant wailing behind you on a plane.
That hefty printed book is alive with energy, inspiration, and imagination. Each one takes us on a journey to lands we will never visit, worlds we will never see, and inside the minds of people we will never meet. Many, many of us still believe they are so much better than any other form of “book” being produced today.
Still, technology will have its way. The battle over print vs. digital wages on. In a recent blog post, Joe Wikert, General Manager and Publisher at O’Reily Media, discusses the “Revenge of the Independents” (bookstores). He says that the rising digital intrusion on traditional publishing could be a boon to independent bookstores – where personalizing the experience of purchasing old-fashioned printed books could bring in more customers. (These very stores, in the near future, will allow authors to print books, one at a time, bearing not only the writing costs, but the printing costs, on their own.)
Jackie Huba, at Church of the Customer, offers, “How the book publishing industry should reinvent itself,” noting that self-publishing is gaining respectability. She quotes Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent, deciding to self-publish his book. “In this scenario,” Dave says, “authors prove their ability to deliver a good book and an audience before a publisher invests.” He isn’t talking e-books, he’s talking print, folks. Although, each author is able to choose the e-book option, one supposes.
The growing use and popularity of e-books and audio-books and the latest printers that print and bind your book at the click of a button, are changing the face of the book industry, but they are not changing the desire to hold that physical copy of Harry Potter or Chicken Soup for the Soul in eager fingers. Printed books have a special, protected place in the hearts of people the world over, people like me. Pundits predicting the demise of those printed books may speak to some, but they do not speak to us.
About the Author: Yvonne DiVita is the author of Dick*less Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, a book about getting those baby boomer icons Dick and Jane to buy at your website. Following publication of her book, she founded Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC, all about Books, Blogs and Beyond. Yvonne maintains a blog at LipSticking supporting her work in the women's market online. Yvonne is the VP of Web Communications at the Rochester Chapter of the American Marketing Association. She is quoted throughout the net on marketing to women, blogging for business, and publishing.