E-Book Economic Take-Over: Alice in Kindleland
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) What would American literary colossus Ernest Hemingway have made of the friend-obsessed times we live in today where the need to like and be liked has taken on a literal meaning? "There is no friend as loyal as a book", Hemingway is reputed to have said. Does the Facebook generation identify with that sentiment; can budding bibliophiles express their love beyond 140 characters?
The Renaissance of the E-Book
Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the middle of the fifteenth century and its contribution to the Renaissance is the stuff of lore. In fifty years we might be hailing Sonya serial offender when it comes to disrupting the status quo and its introduction in 2004 of the LIBRIe e-book reader as similarly momentous.
At first glance, the e-book revolution seems, overhyped, with three-fourths of the American population yet to read a single e-book. Responding to a survey by website Grammarly, reader John Landis captured the sentiments of many: "An e-book is not a book." Another reader, Wynter Woodbury, chimes in, "I can see the point of e-readers but the feel of books in my hands, the texture of paper as I turn the pages, pick them up and read the covers to make a decision, makes me never want to give up paper books."
Yet, data from the American Association of Publishers has shown that e-book sales grew 49.4% in January 2012 in the adult category year-over-year, 475.1% in the children and young adult category, and 150.7% in the religious publications category, without any divine intervention.
The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project reported that readership of e-books increased from 16% to 23% between 2011 and 2012, while readership of printed books fell from 72% to 67%. The USA Today best seller list of 50 books had 42 books where the e-books were outselling the paper versions.
The industry has reflected the fundamental nature of change. While Sony may have lost out to Apple and Samsung in the device wars, Amazon has been able to combine its marketplace strength with a solid e-reader thanks to the Kindle. In contrast, Borders has gone under, and Barnes & Noble, which valiantly attempted to fight back with the Nook, has lost $500 million on its e-reader division.
The Library Lives!
Regardless of the format, there is another reason why the reading habit is still going strongAmerica still loves its libraries. There is a strong printed book bias despite e-books being available. "Library! I love the feel and smell of books, there is nothing like it", says Erika Richards in the Grammarly survey. Others, like Lisa Sprinsgteel Markhoff have arrived at a compromise that works well for everyone.