It looks more like a revolution, or an all out civil war with each side volleying shots and strategies that will ensure they achieve the upper hand. What is this rebellion all about? E-books and e-readers are taking hold in the literary world and forcing bookstores into bankruptcy, or at least a reinvention of themselves in order to keep pace with the new upstarts of the book industry.
The E-book and E-reader Statistics Show the Trend
One victim of this revolution is the book chain Borders, which operates over 500 stores in the U.S., and has just entered into bankruptcy. Is this the trumpet heralding the beginning of the end? Some think so.
Amazon is reporting that, as of this year the e-book is now outselling the traditional paperback book. For every 100 paperbacks Amazon sells, they sell 115 e-books. Mike Shatzkin, organizer of the Digital Book World Conference and head of the consultancy Idea Logical Company, recently said that he sees the market for traditional books falling by two-thirds, down to about 25 percent of total book sales.
In a recent report released by The International Digital Publishing Forum, the surge in e-book sales cannot be ignored. In last year, Americans spent $119.7 million on e-books, and that number is rising steadily.
Do E-books Signal the End of Traditional Bookstores?
No, at least not in the sense that bookstores will be totally obsolete. The predictions are bookstores will remain, but there will be fewer, and those that do remain will become more specialized. Bookstores that cater to a particular group or topic will be the new trend. Bookstores are going to have to reinvent themselves in this new literary world to keep up. Retailers must become more creative in order to keep customers coming through the doors.
Let’s not ignore the avid book collector either. In the future, there is not going to be a reason for collectors to collect e-books. Books, real, tangible reading material, are a part of history and there is no denying that there are those who will remain adamant about holding a book in hand, turning dog-eared pages the traditional way and placing sweet, flowery bookmarks to hold a place mark. It could very well be that at some point in the distant future, owning a real hard-bound or paperback book, even if it is one of the “Twilight” series, could be the new wave in book collecting. Book collection might not be based solely on the notoriety of the author or the historical significance it once played in life.
What is the Appeal of the Ebook and Ereader?
Aside from this being the age of technology, and e-readers are part of that need-to-own tech gadget mentality, there is a significant convenience that the e-books and e-readers provide. Imagine traveling for business or pleasure, and having your entire library come along with you. Instead of packing 2 or 3 additional suitcases, (not to mention the extra baggage fees that airlines are now charging), all you need to do, as you run to catch your flight, is pick up your e-reader off the nightstand. Simply slip it into your carry on and the whole world is at your fingertips.
This is increasingly becoming a world that demands we keep our lives organized in order to succeed in it. The e-reader is efficient at that as well, offering ways to organize your books by title or author, or what you are currently reading. You can take notes about what you are reading on the e-reader and some even offer highlighting of passages that you find particularly noteworthy.
Where to Find E-books?
Every day it seems that there is a new source that a reader can go to and download an e-book to whatever e-reader device they have. Even local libraries are getting in on this revolution. With a simple code on the library card you own, and an Internet connection you can borrow books from several libraries around the country. After the allotted time allowed to you by the library, the e-book simply disappears off your device.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook offers a book sharing feature that allows you to share your ebooks with others who have a Nook. You can download books from the e-book stores either from your computer or through a wireless Internet connection, Either 3G or Wifi, depending on the e-book you own.
This brave new world is something that even George Orwell did not predict. E-readers are catching on and in order for retailers to keep up, they are going to have to do some creative, out-of-the-box thinking.