There’s a war in my home. It started recently, when negotiations between The Size of My Book Collection and The Space I Have for Books broke down. The only hope for reconciliation is a treaty floated by my husband called, “One Book In, One Book Out” under which each new book must replace, not add to, the collection.
Deciding when I should buy a book is pretty complicated. I ask myself tough questions like: Is this a book I’ll read more than a few times? Does this book qualify for the coveted shelf space? Which book is going to get the boot?
Several people have suggested that a Kindle, iPad or other ebook would solve my problem. There’s something really attractive about being able to download books, store them and easily take them places. But I think I would also miss the tactile relationship that I have with the books. There’s a comfort from an old book’s smell. Touching paper reminds me of other books I’ve read. And it’s hard to beat great cover art.
A lot has been written in the news lately about the impact that the iPad will have on the business of selling books. It has mostly focused on the competition between Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and pricing. I think that ebooks mean much more than that to the publishing industry. They lower operational costs and increase the importance of electronic marketing. They allow the industry’s best consumers to buy more (albeit at a lower price). It also allows customers to make more impulse purchases. Finally, the lower prices mean a customer will buy a book at $10 that he or she would not at $16.99.
But for most of the customers of books, e-readers don’t mean much. Many of them will be willing to pay $6 more dollars to go to the bookstore, shop, touch the books, carry them around and find a special place on their crowded bookshelves for them.