Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WSJ Wednesday: Print Books Are Here to Stay

I always love to read articles that challenge what we think we know. Ever since the advent of e-books, it's been feared digital books will become the norm and printed books will phase out. The closing of some independent bookstores and big chain stores, like Borders, seems to back that up.

Even though I'm still waiting for the paperless office to become a reality, I have to admit digital books--while fabulous--scare me because of their potential impact on the industry. In the Saturday/Sunday January 5 - 6, 2013 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Carr states, "...the death of the printed book may be exaggerated."

Carr says the future for traditional books is looking better. Hardcover sales are staying strong and e-book sales are slowing. His article even says that the purchases of e-readers is shrinking because consumers are focusing on multipurpose tablets. Those fickle consumers confuse us all.

Carr cites a Pew Research Center survey and reported statistics from the Association of American Publishers in this article. The AAP reported that the rate of growth for e-book sales dropped considerably in 2012. Carr also mentions a survey by Bowker Market Research that revealed only 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book and 59% say they have "no interest" in buying one. And here's the kicker, because consumers are now opting for multipurpose tablets, e-books find it hard to compete against games, videos, and Facebook on these devices.

Another point Carr makes deserves consideration. E-book purchases have been disproportionately fiction because they are often books we read quickly and have no desire to hang on to. Plus, e-readers have allowed people to read books they might be reluctant to carry around in paperback or hardcover form. But those enjoying literary fiction and narrative nonfiction still lean toward printed books.

What is the publishing industry supposed to do with this news? Every time it seems a trend is sticking, it turns out to be just a trend. And like most trends, they shift directions. Is it any wonder it's hard to get traditionally published these days.

As a reader, what do you think of this news? Do you think Carr is right? Does it change your thoughts on buying a multipurpose device like an iPad for a child you know?


Patty Woodland said...

I think that books will ultimately go but not in our lifetimes. I think that when the kids that grow up knowing nothing but computers are adults they will be the ones that look to museums and such to see what a book is.

Dorothy Thompson said...

I don't think we have any worries that print books will go away. I think that ebooks just gives us another option which is fabulous.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies. I appreciate you stopping by to add your thoughts.