The Future of the Printed Word



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?


11 thoughts on “The Future of the Printed Word

  1. I still love printed books. I don’t think ebooks will take over for a long time yet. Most readers still prefer to have a physical book in their hands.
    I read a lot more ebooks ever since I got my Kindle but I’ll never say bye to paperbacks.

    • I’m not looking to say goodbye to them either, Emma. Hopefully, they’ll be around for many years to come.
      Unfortunately, I think they won’t be the mainstream delivery, and I’m already wondering if the scales have been tipped – are there more ebook sales than print?

  2. Until I won my kindle a little over 2 years ago, I was of the mindset that I wouldn’t go the book route. But that all changed when my kindle showed up. I also have an Acer tablet which has a kindle app and is synched to my kindle and now admittedly, I have read maybe one or two paperback or print books since.

    As an author, we don’t want to see print books go by the wayside but unfortunately in this technological day and age, people are turning to ebooks for convenience and time savers. We are having to squeeze our reading time in however we can and electronic seems to be able to handle that.

    I find that using my kindle and tablet to read is easier on my eyes and my hands (have diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome from being a medical transcriptionist for over 20 years and fom cross stitching and crocheting). When I’m doing book events, both my tablet and kindle accompany me. I can read at my table on my tablet picking up where I left off on my kindle. I use my kindle mostly for reading in bed as the tablet is a bit too heavy to hold for extended periods of time.

    I hope print books don’t go totally obsolete but with the advances in technology, you can research and ind just about any reference book or any topic online and I’m afraid that print books will be disappearing for the most part. E 🙂

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of FINALLY HOME, AKelly Watson paranomormal YA mystery
    THE TIES OF TIME a Kelly Watson paraormal mystery

  3. i haven’t seen any numbers lately on how the ebooks are doing but they are definitely gaining ground. With the options of bypasing the big publishers and doing it yourself and being able to offer books up for free with Kindle’s select program, and as many books that are offered for free on any given day, should prove some advances in the ebook stats.

    BTW, which is the 2nd i the Lost Book of Souls series? Maybe I missed it and didn’t realize it. I’m working on my second paranormal in my series, which I hadn’t intended to do when I wrote the first one but all my reders so far have been inquiring about a second one in the series, thus The Ties of Time was brainstormed and is being written now, although after the serious brainstorming session I had with my friend, I almost feel like I can’t write the story now since we know everything that the story needs to convey – lol. Let me know and I’ll get the 2nd in your series when I can. E 🙂

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of FINALLY HOME, a Kelly Watson paranormal YA mystery
    THE TIES OF TIME, a Kelly Watson paranormal YA mystery

  4. Thanks for posting, Michelle. I think ultimately it’s the convenience of being able to more quickly obtain the book, as well as being able to carry it and hundreds more with you wherever you travel.
    I would say that readers always read, but there were also many who liked to read, but obstacles stood in their way and kept them from doing so. Now those are being knocked away with digital books. I would say we’re seeing more people reading, not less.
    Now that writers can more easily get their work “published”, this new age is allowing us to get past obstacles of our own, namely the traditional route that only allowed a few to “make it.”
    Those are just my thoughts, but I thank you for asking.


    • I believe that’s true, James! More people are reading now than they have in a very long time thanks to ebooks and ereaders. And with a lot of self-published books, readers have a wider variety to choose from as well.

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