Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Times, They Are A Changing

I would consider myself an avid reader. Today for instance, it felt like Christmas as I unpacked my latest order from Amazon. Ah, the look and smell of new and unopened books - tis a beautiful thing! Reading is not only about the words written but is tactile and sensuous experience to me. It is like going to the movies - sure I can rent the same movie for $1.50 at Shell and watch from my couch but it's not the same experience as going to the theater. The experience is the thing.

I read in July that for the first time ever at Amazon, digital downloads of books (books designed to be viewed on an e-reader like the Kindle or the iPad) surpassed hardcover sales. News that downloaded kindle books has overtaken its hardcover brethren hit me like a kick in the teeth. According to the press release, 143 Kindle books have been sold for every 100 hardcovers in the past three months. Wow, consider me shocked.

I admit that I had watched the emergence of e-readers with bemused snobbery. I can understand that for a few people, reading a book from a screen might be appealing, but certainly not for the mainstream. How could the majority of people prefer digital to real books? Impossible!

Well, the impossible has come true. Within a year or two many expect that digital book sales in the U.S. will eclipse softcover and hardcover sales combined. Thus, the most popular medium for the printed word for over 500 years (the printed page) is about to become . . . a relic. Libraries will change as we know them. How we read will change. Everything will change. People such as myself with our book collections will be looked on as quaint and hopefully interesting. Alas! I usually embrace new technology but the eventual supplanting of printed books by digital books saddens me deeply. Yet already I feel my resolve weakening! After all, it would be kind of nice to carry my whole book collection with me all the time. And it would save them from cutting down trees. Maybe I wouldn't miss the feel of turning pages too much. Sigh. I can actually forsee myself getting a Kindle (or an iPad). It's only a matter of time . . .


Lindsey Dueck said...

I would really love to buy Eric a Kindle, or an iPad, for reading but he hates the idea! He reads so many books that I know it would be cost effective, take up less room in my house, better for the environment etc. But he is appalled at the though of reading a book on a computer. He likes the feel of the pages. He would love a huge book collection one day, and I guess that would kill the dream.

Moxymama said...

Your post echoed my thoughts. I like to feel the pages, smell the book, write in the margins as I read. While I understand the convenience and in many instances practicality of a Kindle or IPAD I just don't think I can bring myself to use one of those devices as my mode for reading a book.

Marc said...

You must resist, Mark. I can't stand reading on a computer. Even though I've downloaded a couple of free books for my iPod Touch, I haven't read more than a line or two from any of them. I can't stand it.

Incidentally, I also recently acquired a record player.


Jay Boaz said...

I keep debating getting an e-reader, but until the format war is over with all the different readers and book types I won't be buying.

I think I could handle reading a regular book on an e-reader, but I'm old school when it comes to my comics. I have several digital comic collections and they just don't compare to kicking back with the actual book in my hands.

What gets me is that e-books are still about the same price as a printed book. Considering the costs should be much less to produce an e-book (no printing costs, shipping costs, physical storage, etc) it bugs me to pay the same price as a printed one.

Anonymous said...

Not a chance. Screens are harder on the eyes than pages. And getting away from a techno gizmo is sometimes the point.

Evan K.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I love real books!