Recently on Facebook, a spokesperson for an independent bookstore said, "Small stores like ours will continue to be successful by providing something that many readers find critical--human interaction and meaningful conversation about books."

But will they continue to be successful?

I like human interaction and meaningful conversations about books as much as anyone. But then I enjoyed human interaction and meaningful conversation about records and movies, too. My preferences, however, didn't save all the record stores and video rental stores from disappearing, and it won't save most of the bookstores from disappearing either. Sad, but true.

I love paper books, and I still buy them sometimes. But, when you get down to it, e-books are a vastly superior delivery method for the written word; so, naturally, e-books will eventually take the lion's share of the total book market. We can fight it, or we can embrace it, but the end result is going to be the same.

So, we might as well embrace it, IMO. I'm 52, and I happen to love e-books, and I love my Kindle. And, when I think about the enormous amount of pollution created by producing and transporting and storing paper, I love my Kindle even more.

Trying to make the point that some people will always insist on good old fashioned paper books, the same bookseller I quoted above mentioned that the sales of vinyl records increased 40% from 2010 to 2011. But it seems to me that any sort of increase in the sales of obsolete formats is largely irrelevant. What we really have to look at is total market share, and that remains very small. Way too small to support the brick and mortar stores of yesteryear. Vinyl records are a niche market, and that's all they'll ever be from now on. Forever and ever and ever. Just like buggy whips.

And, in the not-too-distant future, dead tree books.


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You missed the point.

You missed the point.

Your point, if I understood it correctly, was that there are examples of existing technologies that held their market ground when something superior came along. I myself can't think of any.

Exactly.   The fact that you can buy LP records or suits of armor means nothing about markets.  

The replacemtn of paper with digital is pretty inevitable.  Just a matter of how much time is involved.    This stuff doesn't happen overnight.  But you can't use antiques and collector products as examples.

1911 Colt .45?

Who cares what delivery system readers use as long as a writer's efforts are compensated equally with either paper or e-books?

I bought a Nook 6 months ago; returned it after one month.  Didn't enjoy using it or its features.  If I ever decide to try again, I'd probably go with a Kindle.  But I am in no hurry at all.  On Amazon there are just too many good paper editions of almost everything ever published, used and VERY CHEAP.  I don't think I could ever plow through all in that area that interests me.

Well, I look at used paperbacks on amazon, but it always turns out there's a $3.99 shpping charge on that $1.87 paperback... and here's the ebook for 99 cents or free.

But main thing, a LOT of my reading lately is stuff that isn't out in paperback and might never be. 

On the other hand, my "book" is 99 cents and the paperback, created only for reviewers, is selling.  So who knows.  I'd say that's a quirk of that particular book.  

The whole market environment of ebooks and how they are sold is different.  I get emails avery day with displays of dozens of free or cheap ebooks.  Many only exist as Kindle books.

There was a recent Pew study that found 90% of ebook readers continue to read print books. I wonder what the percentage will be in five years.

Man, I hate the words, "buggy whip...."

If these bookstores hope to be successful offering "critical-human interaction," I hope their model isn't the old hippie behind the counter at the store that sells vinyl in my neighbourhood...

There was an article in the Guardian the other day that said print-vs-ebooks is showing the same kind of split as literature-vs-genre. Genre is doing very well in ebooks but literary fiction still sells more paper copies.

Certainly mass market paperbacks (where literary fiction has never done well) will disappear but trade paperbacks could continue as a small market like audiobooks.

But really, who cares?


Hardcover, trade paper, and mass market paper are thought of s three flavors of the same thing. In time, all this turmoil will die down and the e-book will become the fourth flavor. (Or more likely the third, as it so closely duplicates the role of the mass market paperback.)

As for my reading, I'm 56, and it probably breaks down about 50-50. I'm on a physical book binge after Christmas, as I got some gifts. Once I've read my backlog, Kindle will pick up a little as I want to try new things. I'm very close to the point where I regard them all as books and don't think much of how I turn the page.

1911 Colt .45?

That pistol WAS the game changer back in the early part of the 20th century, basically the prototype for all modern semi-automatics. The Beretta M9 has been standard military issue for the past couple of decades, but the technology is pretty much the same. When someone invents a Phaser, like they use on Star Trek, or some other vastly superior technology for holstered weapons, then the market for semi-automatic pistols will diminish drastically.

So that's a pretty good analogy, really. The Kindle is to paper books what the Phaser would be to guns that shoot bullets.

But really, who cares?

The buggy whip people, of course. They HATE Henry Ford. Damn him and his innovative ways!

No, most buggy whip people moved into auto parts manufacturing.

The editor who bought my first two books for Harcourt was laid off when they merged with Houghton Miflon but she's now an excellent agent. All industries, even publishing, need infrastructure ands lots of good people.


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