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.

Thoughts?

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Do you have a link? I'm curious about which experts are saying that.

It's been about a year since I saw the prognostications but I think it was McQuivey at Forrester and one other source I've since forgotten, but I believe I read it at Shatzkin files.

If I had to guess, I'd say we'll settle in at 65% ebooks, 35% print.

If we look at the number of units sold (as opposed to the number of dollars collected), including self-published titles, I would guess that e-books have already exceeded 65%. More people are reading e-books than paper books, but e-books cost less, so paper still brings in more money. In that way, the statistics regarding market share are misleading. If we look at the number of units sold, e-books are already the dominant format.

Sold?  Excluding free downloads?

I didn't mean units sold, but meant dollars.

Out of curiosity I just Googled for a few minutes and found reference to a Price Waterhouse estimate that US market share will hit 50% by 2016. So perhaps the estimates are trending upwards.

http://paidcontent.org/2012/06/12/what-will-the-global-e-book-marke...

Of course, when that pesky solar magnetic pulse wipes out all our hard drives, we'll be glad all those "how-to" books survive in print. Score one for pulp.

I didn't mean units sold, but meant dollars.

I know. I just wanted to offer a different perspective.

So perhaps the estimates are trending upwards.

Yes. And publishers and booksellers would do well to take note and plan accordingly.

For one thing, I think it would be great if proprietary formats disappeared, and if every e-reader accepted e-books from every retailer. Can you imagine your DVD player only accepting disks bought from a certain store? That's basically what we're dealing with now. As a Thomas and Mercer author, I would love for my e-books to be available on other retail sites. B&N, Kobo, Apple, indie bookstore websites, wherever.

With sales slowing on dedicated e-readers and increasing on tablets, maybe we'll see that happen eventually. I hope so.

Yeah, I think that's inevitable. Just a matter of the timeframe.

Agree. This is still a new phenomenon. I think of it as analogous to sorting VHS vs. Beta. (For those of us old enough to remember that.0

I guess I don't see this as a "versus", looking at it as a reader.

As a fledgling writer, I'd see ebooks as the major direction, the area in which independent and new writers can play on an even playing field.

I think it's pretty obvious that in the long run it'll all be electronic.  Like everything else.

They said that B&W photography would die out with the widespread availability of color film.  It didn't.  They said that movies would die with a TV in every house.  It didn't.

They said that buggy whips and slide rules would die out with the invention of cars and electronic calculators.  They did.

So, you never know what is going to happen.

They said that B&W photography would die out with the widespread availability of color film.  It didn't.

Color photography and B&W photography are two different art forms. But B&W did pretty much die out among amateur photographers. As far as I know, B&W film didn't even exist for the cheap and popular "Instamatic" cameras.

But we're way beyond that. Unless you're photography buff, or a professional photographer, when was the last time you or anyone you know bought a roll of film of any kind?

They said that movies would die with a TV in every house.  It didn't.

I've already addressed that one in detail elsewhere in the comments.

They said that buggy whips and slide rules would die out with the invention of cars and electronic calculators.  They did.

And so did every other type of technology when something superior came along. Yes, we can predict what will happen when it comes to technological advances.

You can still buy buggy whips and slide rules, but they're a niche market. That's what paper books will be.

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