So; it's official. Amazon's ebook sales have surpassed their print sales. Is this the beginning of the end for the printed word? Perhaps, and we are certainly in for some changes concerning how fiction is sold and perceived, but the extinction of books, and magazines, and (say it ain't so) bookstores and libraries? Well, libraries are already not what they used to be, but this is likely due more to increased consumer pressures to buy rather than borrow [Netflix for books? Is this a Million Dollar Idea?], and bookstores are suffering in the current economy, but does that mean we can predict readers of the future reading their stories only on electronic media? I'm not so sure.
Technology is a funny thing; it's made and marketed as a means for solving problems, but, as certain problems are solved, others are created. When the personal computer began to surface (alright, I was just a kid, but I can still talk about it), there was a lot of talk about using less paper and how computers would replace the need it. This never happened; there is still a whole hell of a lot of paper being used; we still use paper even though we can "create" on a computer screen. Technology is cyclical, it makes big promises and then double-backs on itself.
It may happen; printed books may be replaced with e-readers, and really, is this really going to change much? The population of actual readers is already abysmally low; maybe everyone having a Kindle will help this... But, what I've noticed is that a lot of people have Kindles and a lot of those people have them stuffed in a drawer somewhere caked with dust. I think that the kind of people purchasing Kindles are mostly "casual" readers (as in, they read 1 or 2 books a year - like The DaVinci Code and The Kite Runner and popular-curlture-bestseller shit like that) and are not likely to provide a lot of business for Amazon. I heard a statistic that only 2% of American's are actual "readers" (as in, they actually read, you know, when they can, more than just in the airport). That's a very low number and, in my humble opinion, a little scary. I read a lot and when I read, I'd rather have a physical paper book than an Ipad or something. I've tried to get into e-books, but I don't have the same personal connection with words on a screen that I have with a book. Is that weird? A personal connection? What do you think? When I read a book, I become emotionally investing in the story, the characters, and the actual physical copy of the book I am reading.
What really makes me think print media will never die is my experience with the editing process of my own writing. When I write, I type on the computer and I can do limited editing and re-writes on the computer, but when it comes to the serious stuff, I just can't edit as well as I can on paper. My friends at work keep showing me apps on the Ipad that can write on PDF documents and such, but, even so, its not quite the same. There is a different feel to things on the computer and on paper, and a different mindset is used with the two mediums. And that's the key - Different Mediums! Just because there are artists who create using the computer does not mean they do not still paint, or draw, or sculpt; electronic mediums do not discount or replace other methods of creation.
For more on why e-books will never replace real books, check out this article:
Bold Prediction by Jan Swafford
Kindle sales surpass print sales on Amazon:
I don't know, just my thoughts on things...