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Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated 465

New submitter razor88x writes "Although just 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book to date, the growth rate in sales of digital books is already dropping sharply. At the same time, sales of dedicated e-readers actually shrank in 2012, as people bought tablets instead. Meanwhile, printed books continue to be preferred over e-books by a wide majority of U.S. book readers. In his blog post Will Gutenberg Laugh Last?, writer Nicholas Carr draws on these statistics and others to argue that, contrary to predictions, printed books may continue to be the book's dominant form. 'We may be discovering,' he writes, 'that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.'"
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Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated

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  • by slackware 3.6 ( 2524328 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:35AM (#42493519)
    I just can not become totally immersed in an e-book. It started when I was a little kid and I read every book I could get my hands on. E-books will never replace the feeling of nostalgia from my childhood. Unfortunatly I rarely read anymore unless it is a manual or some such.
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ikonoclasm ( 1139897 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:45AM (#42493579)

    Is there any data on e-reader habits based on age? As with most technological sea changes, there's resistance in the older generations that gradually evaporates. With e-readers, I'd very much expect a bit of a downswing in sales right after the initial surge. The less tech-friendly are convinced that easy-to-use e-readers are worth having by those young folk who know what they're talking about, but then decide that maybe they're not so keen on it after all. Meanwhile, the younger generations are adopting it at a steady pace that's only visible when you look at sales in specific demographics. I don't know if my hypothesis holds water or not, but from personal experience, this is not a new phenomenon.

  • Re:Books (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:50AM (#42493595)

    A large portion of the population is technically and otherwise illiterate. Or of low enough level that they don't do much reading and don't set up their own electronics.

    I do agree that for quick reference, a paper book is hard to beat, but it's hard to believe that an ebook won't be as efficient any time soon. With more power and a better display, I could definitely see them being easier to search.

    As far as the "experience" goes, only hardcore bookworms are likely to consider that to be desirable. I've read paper books and they're not ergonomic at all. My Nook Glow OTOH can be read in the dark and I can prop it up, only touching the thing when I need to turn the page. I can also search for text in it, which is something I've never been able to do with a paper book.

    What's more, I can bring an entire collection of books with me when I travel. Ebooks don't really require infrastructure, if you've gotten to the point where that's an issue, you've probably got other things to worry about. Yes, you do have a point about electricity, but you can do a ton of reading on a charge.

    And I don't have to buy any books, I can just check them out electronically on my computer without even having to leave the home. Seriously, it looks like you're going way out of your way to bash ebooks without similarly bashing paper books for their flaws.

  • research (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock.poetic@com> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:09AM (#42493669)

    I hope I never have to do research in a paper book again.
    No random access, useless index, no xref, no links, no instant glossary...

    The books I studied in school weighed far more than a tablet, cost nearly the same, and offered far less. A tablet could contain 1000 such books and provide pulp fiction too if I wanted that. Not to mention that the tablet provides the internet, Wikipedia, other media and access to all my friends and associates.

    The only real books I keep are those that have not been digitized or are very rare. OK, some have value and I'm not going to burn them. It's the same philosophy that helps me to decide which LP records, audio tapes, and video tapes to keep. Once they are properly digitized, the old media is out of here.

    I'm a writer. Unlike those of the past who refused to learn to type or use a computer, my feeling is that the technology is irrelevant- it's the story, stupid. If you read it from an illuminated parchment or a pixellated screen or the wall of China, what difference does it make?

    I do keep a paper book in the bathroom, just in case the other paper runs out.
    Take that you paper snobs!

  • Re:Books (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:14AM (#42493701)

    They don't need batteries
    Do not require infrastructure to maintain

    No, instead of batteries, you require shelves, lots and lots of shelves in a clean, dry environment.

    You can buy them used without DRM

    You're generalising, not all vendors do this.

    While an e-book is technically the same thing, content wise, the *experience* of reading a book is something that cannot be duplicated. A large, LARGE portion of the population apparently agrees.

    That LARGE portion of the population is aging, the technophobes will still hate tablets and e-readers, but this is the future, it will take a lot more decades though, until the percentages switch.

    They smell interesting

    NOT a feature, having asthma, like an ever growing percentage of the population, I can tell you, dusty books, are not something I enjoy being around, let alone read.

    Here's one thing that you neglected to mention about e-books: They cost almost nothing to publish. It means a lot of rubbish makes it through, but a lot more good authors will get published. With paper books, I guarantee, that over the past hundred years millions of manuscripts became forgotten, because of the printing costs.

    The future is here and now. I have thousands of books on my tablet all in a 350 grams package, which I can back up anywhere and any time.

    Honestly, you people make me think of those monks handwriting books, calling the ban of the printing press. WTF!

  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:04AM (#42494501) Journal

    I found this whole thing so offensive, I started working on, to provide a path out of the walled garden. Google, Apple, and Amazon typically charge 30% for nothing other than having sold you the tablet or reader. Apple is the worst, forcing publishers to insure that no ebook store was allowed to offer lower prices than Apple. All three DRM all their ebooks. The basic idea is that users and authors should split most of that 30%, and not have to pay the new middle men who don't even to pretend to add value. With the dawn of ebooks, prices were supposed to drop tremendously. There's no more printing costs and no more brick and mortar store we have to support. The job of the publisher becomes simply editing and publicity, reducing costs dramatically. Instead, Amazon, Apple and Google teamed up with the big publishers to figure out a way to keep all of the savings for themselves.

    Authors still want access to readers without these guys in the way, and readers still want non-DRMed low cost ebooks. The demand is there, and if we can find a way to bridge the gap between them, sales of ebooks would skyrocket. The reason only 16% of us have e-readers or tablets is simple: ebooks don't save us enough money, if any. If we could save 50% on every ebook we buy relative to a printed version, everyone would read ebooks.

    If candle manufactures got together and demanded that all the savings available through electric lighting had to go to candle makers, electric lighting would still be a novelty item.

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Interesting)

    by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:57AM (#42494693) Journal

    Well, it's not a candle, but the BioLite Camp Stove is a little woodburning stove that uses a thermocouple to generate power both to run its fan - it uses forced air to burn hotter and cleaner - and to provide a powered USB port to charge gizmos.

    I want one, but don't go camping enough any more to justify the pricetag.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @09:14AM (#42494749) Homepage Journal

    it's a USB Mass Storage device you can drag-and-drop DRM-free ebooks (in .mobi and a few other formats) perfectly fine.

    But what professional-quality ebooks are lawfully distributed DRM-free? I can see pre-1923 works, Baen Books, works of Cory Doctorow and a few other authors who have embraced Creative Commons, and what else?

  • Re:Books (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PhotoJim ( 813785 ) < minus poet> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:55AM (#42495351) Homepage

    I favour physical books over ebooks by a large margin, but this is an undeniable advantage of ebooks. No special large print edition is required.

    In fairness a person can use a magnifier on a paper book, but they're usable on any eInk ebook reader too (LCD displays are probably not as fun to read when magnified, Apple Retina possibly excepted). But when you can increase the font size yourself, that makes life a lot easier.

    I'm only 45... but I have my Kindle set to be one font size bigger than default just to make it a little more comfortable to use.

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