Books, Marketing, Opinion, Publish, Reader, Writing

Why will printed books go the way of the dinosaur?

The answer is simple, but first let me ask another question. How many of you still have a car phone, cassette player, VCR, or even analog TV? Not many, I would guess. I’m happy to have my iPhone, CD and mp3 players, Blu-Ray disc player, and widescreen, high-definition TV. They are all improvements. Does the eReader improve on traditional books?

For those who travel, eReaders are a joy. And think of the convenience when you’ll be able to download all the research materials you need from your local library—for free! Do you hate to see your kids lugging backpacks that weigh as much as they do? No more will they risk permanent spinal damage when they can download all their textbooks to an eReader. There are more pros—and cons—but let’s move on.

Printed books have been around since the mid-15th century. Isn’t it time for a change? Oh sure, we have audio books, but if we can, most of us still prefer to read the words ourselves. Until now, publishers of printed books have reigned supreme. But now they’ve been challenged—by the electronics industry.

We’re consumers. We’re techno-junkies. Of course we all want eReaders. And manufacturers are reveling in orgasmic glee because they know we all want the latest, shiniest, fastest version available and we’ll line up 24-hrs before they go on sale at midnight to get one. The content of the books won’t change, but the devices to read them will. Again and again.

Marketing genius is the real reason printed books will become obsolete.

Now, tell me, have you ventured into the eReader frontier? (For the record, I don’t own an eReader—but I’d be happy to try one if anyone’s feeling generous.)

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42 thoughts on “Why will printed books go the way of the dinosaur?”

    1. Paul, Nathan has been a big proponent for ebooks for a while now. Actually, reading the post you linked to was the one that got me thinking about writing my post. I want to say it isn’t so, but I think the world is too “computerized” not to wholeheartedly adapt this technology.

      However, I was secretly pleased to see Amazon’s recent announcement of ebooks outselling paper challenged. It seems Amazon skewed its statistics.

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  1. I just bought my husband The B&N Nook. He’s a voracious reader and loves it. He says he forgets he’s reading an ebook when he gets caught up in the story.

    I’m still holding out because my Apple-adoring side wants an iPad just because it’s beautiful, but my eyestrain self wants a Nook – compact, e-ink, lightweight.

    A year ago, I said “never”. Now it’s just a matter of time and budget as I’ve come to realize it’s the story and language that I love, not the paper and cover. Although, I do love my bookshelves full of friends … then there’s the yard sale we had last weekend with boxes of books sold and given away, while inside the house the shelves appear nearly undented!

    I can’t begin to imagine a child loving an e-reader like a picture book. Can you tell I’m ambivalent?

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    1. I heard the Nook was better than Kindle. I have iPad envy, but a friend told me she didn’t like the weight of it. I’m not in position to buy any of them right now, so maybe by the time I am, the perfect one will exist.

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  2. What a great question, Linda! I don’t have, but will probably one day have (after the dust settles and the quirks are worked out and when the differences between competing versions are common knowledge) … an e-reader. However, I cannot imagine that I would not want my most treasured books in hard copy with pages and binding and ink. I’m not particularly trusting of the “powers that be” … and if all written knowledge were stored in electronic form, I’d be too fearful that somehow, one day, said powers would pull the plug and alas, then we would would be in a pickle!

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    1. Brett, that’s the scenario I imagined to Paul, sort of a Fahrenheit 451 situation. It just seems weird to think of my whole library in electronic form. Sometimes imagination is inconvenient.

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  3. I like watch Star Trek where everything is so high tech … and then you see Picard in his room reading a real PAPER book. They show people reading “ebooks” too, but I like the idea that even that far in the future there might still be printed books. I love books of all sorts. I look forward to seeing what happens. So much speculation out there!

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      1. Ahh, very very true. I think my absolute favorites I’ll always buy printed. I mean, if the power goes out and my Kindle dies there’s really not much I can do to read a book unless I crack a printed one open. 🙂

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  4. Handwriting didn’t become extinct because of the printing press, and so I think there’s room for digital and hard copy. As we speak young bibliophiles are being initiated – my niece is 13 and loves her real library. I cannot imagine her or myself being excited by a virtual library with no smell, sound or feel.

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