Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Future Isn't E-books (Only)

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.

Do you have an e-reader? And what do you use it for? Answer in the comments below and you could win a copy of Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa.


  1. As a book lover, collector and compulsive reader, ebooks at first were a "closet" activity for me .. a surreptitious download to my laptop while stuck on a train. Now I cradle my iPad as lovingly as any book. My iPad has all possible readers installed so no difficult loyalty decisions. Cover (and other art) is captivating and leaps off the page (screen) .. (I ran a comparison test with an old favourite "House at Pooh Corner") but the best feature is the instant access and the recommendations .. NYT bestsellers .. read and excerpt then a handy dandy "buy" button. Thankfully I discovered the NYPL and its' vast collection of ebooks complete with all the reservation, wishlist, notification features of a regular book but available anywhere, anytime ... I will still keep my favourite print editions on my bookshelves but like Sam my NY real estate space is limited and I can't help but wish for a complete eEdition of the beloved "Chalet School" series or start small with an Antonia Forrest collection .. or .. sigh ... bliss .. :-)

  2. says one who has attempted to convert a printed book (from Word format) to an ebook format, Noelle, It is incredibly complex!

    You have to first ensure that there are [no] more typos than in the physical book and hyphens and other punctuation marks echo the printed book *before* you start fighting to get the layout right on the eformat.

  3. sounds terrible Helen ... I just enjoy the end product!

  4. I seriously think e-books are the devil! I've seen what my iPod has done to the way I listen to and buy music, so I'm very frightened that ACTUALLY books will slowly disappear.

    Great post. I'm sorry that we didn't get to bump into one another at BookExpo, because I love nothing more than chatting about the evilness of e-books with book lovers.

    I also see that you are writing a book about Quakers. Are you familiar with Haven Kimmel? She is writing a book called Quaker Girl (I think it is her working title) and thought you may be interested in it. I adore her, especially since she writes in so many genres.