The Future of Books

I’ve been reading Publisher’s Weekly lately about the price war between Amazon and Walmart. I’ve also read about B&N’s new eReader, the Nook.

So, here’s my question to all you readers and writers out there: how will eBooks and eReaders change the way you read or buy? What effect do you think it will have on publishing? What effect do you think it might have on the writer?

The only think I can say is that music survived, and so will literature. I do think the profit margins are going to drop, but more from the economy than anything else. People without jobs don’t buy anything, much less books. Buy an eReader? Not the unemployed. They’ll go to the library. Those with better funds? Sure. It’s new, and it’s trendy, it’s an easy way to carry more than one book on vacation, etc. I have a friend and a relative who own a Kindle and they love them. I have more friends and relatives that prefer a real book. Me? Real. As geeky as I am, give me a real book. My friend and relative with the Kindles? They’re always talking about how cheap book titles are. I suppose. But, the device is expensive enough to make up that difference unless you’re more than an avid reader. You’d have to be a rabid reader. Prices of print books have dropped. Seriously, nearly the same price for print as an eReader title? Still, eReaders are pretty cool. Just not for me.

Now, about authors: I think the tried and true money makers will be fine. It’s the writer trying to break into the biz that’s going to have a hard go of it all. With profits tight, I don’t think there will be as many debut authors over the next few years.


9 thoughts on “The Future of Books

  1. Hey Michelle,
    To be honest the only time that I think an Ebook would be any good to me would be if I were to go on Holiday. It would save packing space and you could take an absolute ton of titles with you that you just couldn’t afford to take on the plane etc.

    Other than that I like the feel of a real book along with the fact that you can get it signed.

    As you’ve said music has survived so I suspect books will. Part of the problem with ebooks is the cost, theyre way to expensive for a product that doesn’t have to be shipped conventially, only requires one to go to each place for purchase and will never go out of stock so no real storage required. Its a bit silly when you look at how much is saved that way. When they make those cheaper and the reader at a reasonable price with absolutely huge storage on them, then there might be a problem.

    However even if that were to happen I think that a lot of people would still want books. A big part of what helps the authors sell is a tour where books can be signed and fans met. Were that to be done away with I think the publishing industry could be in trouble.

    • True. You can’t get that personal, signed eBook. And I can’t imagine how much the fans of HP would have missed out if it were only an eBook. None of those parties and lines to purchase the latest in the series. I think that was half the fun for most fans. And then it wouldn’t have been the same for Rowling to read any of her books to an audience if it were an eBook.

  2. As I’ve said before, in my blog, and in other places,, I believe in and want real books – not e-thingies. Will the book survive? Yes, I think it will. Perhaps a different distribution system that eliminates or reduces remainders will evolve and costs won’t be as high. As a writer, I have to be optimistic about the future of the printed word.

    I’m not sure about the current state of book sales overall, but I do know that lots of people are reading books. Maybe more people than before, if the every morning line-up at the library doors is any indication and library circulation continues to climb.

    Also, in spite of the current dreadful economic situation, some new small presses have emerged, so that gives me hope too.

    Real books rule!

    • There’s something about the way the page turns, how it feels and sounds that no eBook can replace. But, I’m all for them if it works for most people and gets them to read or read more.

  3. My sister has a Kindle and loves it. I’ll take a paper book any day, but you don’t need an e-reader to read e-books. You can just download them to your computer, and a lot of people do that. My books have sold very well in both formats.

    And about profits, I know a lot of publishing houses are looking at the war between Amazon and Wal-mart and are very unhappy. If you can buy a brand new best-seller by a well-known author for $10, why should you take a chance on a new author for $25? Not good. At that price, the stores are actually taking a loss on that specific book. Best sellers will still make money, because volume and international distribution will compensate for the short term deep discounts.

    But the rest of us? The author’s royalty on e-books is a greater percentage, but it’s a greater percentage of a smaller profit.

    I do think e-books will become more and more popular, though. The generations coming up pretty much live on their i-phones and i-pods. To them, it will seem natural for books to be read on an electronic device and e-books cost less for the publishers, too.



    • I’m an iPhone lover, but I sure don’t want to read a book on one.

      Yes, eBooks will become more popular. Let’s just hope that means more people will read more books.

  4. I definitely think books will survive. Until e-readers (decent ones) are within the means of the average reader, books are simply more affordable, especially since they can be resold/shared.

    Would I like an e-reader? Sure, but it would mainly be for travel, which would mean that the hubs would use it more than me, but it would be very convenient for traveling. The thing is, for us, we’d end up buying MORE books if we had an e-reader. There is no issue of the space they’d take up. If the files were cheap enough, we’d be more likely to buy on a whim. And for books that we love, we’d probably buy both versions.

    Why both? Because we still love our books. We love the way they feel, the way they smell, and there is the handy fact that they don’t require electricity of any sort. Generally speaking, books don’t break.

    So, yes, I think books (print) will survive. I do think the publishing industry needs to figure out an effective way to navigate the changing world of books though, because right now, they’re kind of floundering.

    • You know, travel is one thing, but where I think eBooks could truly shine is in education. What I wouldn’t have given to carry one device instead of an armload or bag full of heavy books.

      And, with some eReaders, it allows you to mark up the book with highlighted text and notes. That would have been great.

      • To be honest Michelle, thats the main use I thought of for the ebook for the eductation market. Like others I do prefer the feel of a proper book and I love meeting authors, but were I to go travelling an Ebook with reader would probably be best. My major problem however is that I can’t read a computer screen for that long without causing problems, so with luck that will get sorted at some point.

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