Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not pro one way and con the other. I love both ebooks and print and I don’t believe the love of one means the dislike of the other. Are we good? Good. Let’s get on with it then.
Recently, I bought an iPad mini. We already had one iPad in the house, a full-sized third generation. It wasn’t a matter of me being my typical geek self, although I can’t tell you how much new shiny gadgets delight me. No, the real reason was because we use the iPad so much that there were times when one of us was out of luck if the other was using it.
Mostly, it’s because we’re reading books on it. Now, to be fair, reading isn’t the only thing we use the iPad for, but that’s another topic. The point is, we do 95% of our reading on the iPad. 95%!
I didn’t expect to love the iPad mini the way that I do. Which means I’ve pretty much confiscated it as my device. I bought a leather folio case for it from Oberon Design and it truly looks like an old-world Celtic journal. You know, book-like.
Yeah, you probably see where this is going. Why not just read real books? I’m a writer! Shouldn’t I relish in holding a book in my hand? Shouldn’t I prefer to go into a book store or peruse the library shelf?
I still buy my favorite author’s physical books. I still enjoy going to the library, although I confess to going a lot less now that I can check out books on the iPad using Overdrive. The selection isn’t quite as robust as our library, but it’s still very nice. I now reserve driving to the library to pick up books I can’t borrow from Overdrive. And buying ebooks from iTunes or Amazon is just so darn convenient! Within minutes, I’m reading the book instead of stalking the mailman or hopping in the car and battling traffic to the local B&N. I dislike traffic with a passion and the area I live in is getting more and more congested.
As I hold this bookish cover that contains my iPad mini, the little device that holds any number of books I can markup to my heart’s content, the device where phone numbers, contacts, calendars, task management systems, Evernote, calculator, and countless other apps, videos, and music is stored, and all in something that fits in my purse, I wonder what the future holds for printed press.
Please don’t get me wrong. I really do love printed books. In my office there is a wall-to-wall, ten foot tall, solid built-in black walnut bookshelf complete with an old-fashioned library ladder. Yeah. You could say that I love books.
I could spin this all about publishers and contracts and how so many authors are taking control and leaving the traditional publishing world behind to become indie instead. I could say this is the reason digital will easily overtake print.
Believe me, I’ve heard and read it far too often that indie publishing is mostly to blame for the woes of traditional publishing.
But I don’t think that’s true. I think the real reason is that people are enjoying tablets and ebook devices and either consciously or not, are buying more digital content that physical content. We did it with music and movies. Why did we ever think it wouldn’t happen to the printed word?
I think the reason digital is growing and print is shrinking is because of the end consumer. Authors just benefit from it. Publishing houses could as well if they adapted, and I’d love for them to stick around. But again, that’s a whole separate topic.
What are your thoughts? Do you think ebooks will overshadow print the way downloadable music and streaming video has to CDs and DVDs? And if so, what do you think is the main reason?