Last year, a friend who works in publishing joked that a good holiday gift for her and her co-workers would be a shotgun shell with a post-it note attached reading, “If e-book sales eclipse print sales, insert in mouth and bite hard.” At that time, e-readers were starting to take off and people in publishing were afraid that print books were going to go the way of the dinosaur. Now, it seems more like the rise of e-books is going to be a great supplement for the publishing industry’s core business of selling print books.
At Book Expo America earlier this month, there was a consensus that at least for the next few years, most people are going to own both e-books and print books. So, while publishing is going to make less money on e-books, that cut is going to be offset by overall sales. Additionally, readers are indicating that they still like going to bookstores and buying books but also appreciate the convenience of being able to load legions of books onto an e-reader for trips and vacations. People will choose the format based on what they want from the book.
I don’t have an e-reader at this point. But I do have lots of bookcases, many of which are filled with dog-eared copies of books from my childhood and books I’ve come to love as an adult. I have a meaningful relationship with these books. In some cases, the cover art is beautiful. In other cases, I have re-read the book so many times it’s like an old friend. I can’t imagine getting rid of these books. I also have a shelf of books for work that I’d love to transfer to an e-reader. They’d be portable, searchable and they wouldn’t take up valuable real estate in my New York apartment.