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December 21, 2010

I’m fairly certain I’m going to be getting a Kindle for Christmas.  I’m very exciting about getting a new toy!  I’ll be able to get some books for free, and others for way cheaper than I could buy them in store.

In the last few months or so I’ve seen a lot of discussion online from varying sources about the effect of ebooks on traditional books and publishing.  Will ebooks be the death of the printed book?  Will traditional publishing take a severe beating from the popularity of ebooks and ebook readers?  Some say yes, some say no, and some don’t seem to care.

And now you get my opinion.  The opinion of an avid reader, if not the opinion of a professional in the publishing business.  Should be good enough!

My opinion: Like most new awesome things, the ebook market is experiencing a huge upswing in popularity.  This upswing could last for a few more years as the technology improves and more books become available in ebook stores.  Thanks to the portability of the ebook readers and the huge amounts of storage on them, it’s not likely that ebooks will go away now that they’re here.

Having said that, I still don’t think that ebooks will be the death of traditional publishing.  I’ve talked to a number of my reader friends who have or are going to get the Kindle or Nook.  They say (like me) that just because they have the readers they aren’t going to stop buying printed books.  There’s something appealing and even magical about holding a book in your hands, feeling the paper and turning physical pages.  Technology is a great thing, but even with the widespread usage of email how many people still prefer to print out important things?  Just about everyone still prefers something physical, because it’s something they can touch and hold.

They just don't make books like this anymore. I wish they did.

It’s the same with books.  Just because there’s an ebook available that doesn’t mean it’s going to be bought over the printed version.  The publishing industry is probably going to take a hit, sure, no one can deny that.  But let’s be honest, their method was struggling to keep up before ebooks came onto the scene.  They’re going to have to redefine some of their methods, I think (I hope) especially in how they approach authors and royalties.  Self-publishing is turning into a much larger business that is far more profitable to the author–though the stigma against self-published authors (that they’re no good and are only self publishing because a real publisher wouldn’t take them) still exists.  I hope that will change.  The bad works will still sink on the self-published markets and the good works will still rise.  Traditional methods of publishing won’t die so much as be forced to undergo a change they have been resisting since the invention of the Internet.

Viva la printed book!


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