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The End of Books!

February 9, 2013

DesignDifferent

blogimageAh, is there nothing better than opening a book and having that waft of paper aroma fill up your breath? Or is that a weird thing? As far back as I can remember the smell of paper was always enjoyable.  Perhaps it was the drawing on crafty card paper as a kid, watching Mr. Dress-Up cut those colourful sheets of paper goodness and hearing the texture in his hands as he snipped through them with his scissors was truly amazing. Or maybe it was opening a pack of Hockey cards and smelling the whole stack before flipping through them, feeling the dust or bubble gum residual. Even today when I open a book, or flip through a notepad, that smell seems to instantly give a feeling of … well a feeling. Holding something real in you hands does that.

I was playing with a friends Kindle at work the other day and at first glance it looked sleek, modern, fun! But when I picked it up and swiped through it’s faux paper pages, it wasn’t the same as a real book. Well first of all I couldn’t bend it, bookmark the ears, or even lick my finger to pick up the next page, well I could have but it wasn’t my Kindle. I then began to think ‘Are books becoming history?’ This year $335-million to $299.8-million was spent on paperback novels. That’s a 10.5% drop! Even worse, last quarter they dropped 20.8%!

Taking all this into consideration I began to realize that my beloved paper was never really going to end. It was just going to be more cherished. Much like Vinyl records, I think books will be sold in smaller quantities at smaller book stores in more hidden away shops. I mean think about it, the future is quickly becoming more ‘screen’ oriented. College and University students are buying digital copies of their textbooks online, they stopped making the Dictionary recently, and even my cherished hockey cards are even being sold digitally. I watched my niece the other day flipping through her iPad and was amazed, because she’s two years old! Our children and future children are all growing up on this stuff.

It’s hard to grasp that a medium that has been around for ages such as print may be obsolete soon. So I say keep all your books aside and preserve them, for one day they may become relics. And one day you may flip through the pages and be time warped to days of texture, smell, and dog earing.

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2 Comments

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  1. February 9, 2013

    I worry about the day when finding a “real” book will be difficult. I can’t bring myself to use an e-reader, but I know my beloved bookstores won’t be around forever. Maybe that’s why I buy so many books… I’m stockpiling!

  2. February 9, 2013

    In the grand history of human storytelling, print hasn’t been around for *that* long. Gutenberg’s printer [for which, interestingly, the worlds largest and oldest eBook resource is named in honour of.] came around 1440, but books as we know them now are only about 150 years old. Paperbacks in particular – most of Charles Dickens work was serialised in papers, for instance, as was the works of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. For me, I think paperbacks have got another twenty years before they become almost impossible to buy anywhere – we need to arrive at a point where you can buy a decent [i.e. comparable to the devices of today] eReader or tablet for £/$19.99. Then you need people to do so, and for the masses to change their buying habits.

    For a comparison? I bought my first MP3 player in 1998. But it’s only been in the last few years that digital music has exploded in popularity. If we assume we’re at the beginning of the increase in popularity of digital books, that means it might not be until the start of the 2020s until they’re the “Default” format for all readers.

    But even if – or more likely – when, eBooks are the predominant “format” for most readers, physical books will still be around. At this point I’d say 60%+ of the books I buy and read are eBooks – that still leaves 40%. And if anything, I’m spending *more* on those physical books, as I’ve moved away from paperbacks and more towards buying hardcovers. That can only benefit the industry – and authors – as the profit margins on hardcovers are a lot better than paperbacks [another reason they might go, as transitioning readers from papebacks to eBooks would *significantly* increase revenue and profit margins for publishers.]

    I agree with your point about Vinyl – it’s the perfect analogy. Ever since the days of 8-Track records people have predicted the death of vinyl. And as new technologies – cassettes, CDs, Mini-Discs, MP3s etc. etc. have come along, vinyl did indeed lose market share. Until about five years ago [at least, here in the U.K.] when sales started to increase. For the last five years vinyl sales have improved, year on year, as music fans – a lot of whom have embraced digital, have started buying vinyl.

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