The Winds of Change, or Where the Book Industry is Headed

“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” -Christina Baldwin

It is said that change is inevitable; that is causes us to adapt, grow, alter our perceptions and habits. The writing and publishing industry is certainly changing a lot these days. many of my authorial friends have commented on it in their blogs, on social media posts, etc. With the advent and rise of the digital book, the way we buy and read has forever been altered. This in many ways is a good thing, as it allows more readers access to more written works, in a faster more easily stored format than the traditional print book.

I foresaw this revolution coming, and in fact twenty years ago I thought about how wonderful it would be to be able to store all your favorite books in a small, lightweight device. I was inspired from reading Douglas Adams‘  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in which one of the main characters, Ford Prefect, an alien from the planet Betelgeuse, has an electronic guide-book that he carries with him everywhere allowing him to access an enormous amount of information from a device the size of a thin trade paperback.  At the time I was in college and hauling around 40 pounds of textbooks in a backpack 5 days a week led me to think there must be a better way to carry around a lot of books. I thought that electronic textbooks as well as being able to store fiction books so that you could have them at your fingertips at any time sounded like a great idea. I tend to like taking a few books with me when I am traveling, always wanting  a variety of things to read at my disposal. I should have run with this train of thought back in 1990-’91 and invent the electronic book, or at least applied for a patent. I’d be filthy rich by now. But I never pursued it at the time I guess because I knew the technology wasn’t ready for such a device. That and I was a bit of a slacker back then and I guess I thought trying to invent something like that way before it’s time would have been way too much work. Slaps forehead. Okay, I was an idiot.

Anyway, with the recent news of E-Book sales supposedly overtaking print book sales, (although there are many who think the actual numbers may be skewed) I thought I should bring it up. I do own a few E-books and will be buying many more, even though I still love to collect print books. I have 14 bookcases full and more books in boxes that I don’t have room for, so buying books in electronic format makes damn good sense at this point. I don’t foresee stopping buying print books however. I will always enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands, the smell and texture of the paper,  the way they look on the shelves in my home. But At least I have the option for now. Maybe print books will disappear completely in the far future. I like to think they won’t go away altogether, that you could still have books available even if only as print on demand if not in bookstores. And I’d like to think that used bookstores would still be around, for those eccentric collectors like myself who like to browse amongst aisles of books, the scent of old paper, glue and bindings in the air. And certainly I hope we never see print books in libraries go away, although they will be delving more and more into the electronic book format like the book sales industry is doing. Maybe someday print book libraries will be like “book museums”, where you can go and see what books were like back in “the good old days” before electronic books took over the world of the written word. At any rate, in whatever format they are in, reading books will hopefully always be a part of our existence. As a reader and a writer, I certainly hope so. I think they will be. Mankind has and always will crave learning through reading the written word.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” -Charles Eliot
“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” -Henry David Thoreau
Published in: on May 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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