Submitted: The Two Sides Team March 13, 2013
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the death of the printed book has been greatly exaggerated.
March 12, 2013
by Howard Fenton
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article,
the death of the printed book has been greatly exaggerated. The article
points to the results of a Pew Research Center survey that showed that
the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the
last year from 16% to 23%. It also showed that 89% of print book readers
say they have read at least one printed book during the last year while
only 30% report reading a single e-book during the same period.
The article goes on to suggest that e-book popularity
might have been an anomaly. Author Nicholas Carr writes, The initial
e-book explosion is starting to look like an aberration. The
technologys early adopters, a small but enthusiastic bunch, made the
move to e-books quickly and in a concentrated period. Further converts
will be harder to come by.
Not only is there evidence to support the growth of printed books,
there is also evidence of a shift in printing technologies used for
books, from offset and toner to inkjet technologies. In the InfoTrends
study, US Digital Production Printing Forecast 2011 to 2016? InfoTrend
predicts an increase of 52 billion pages printed on digital devices and
that a transfer will occur from toner-based devices to inkjet presses.
With all the talk of inkjet presses in the last few years, it should
be no surprise to learn that there are new shows being offered that are
dedicated to inkjet production printing. I just accepted an invitation
to participate in the new Inkjet Summit event this April 9-11.
The WSJ article also points out that a survey by Bower Market
Research found that only 16% of Americans have actually purchased an
e-book and a whopping 59% said they had no interest in buying one. But
Im not exactly sure if a lack of interest in purchasing e-books equates
to no interest in e-books at all, because public libraries allow people
to withdraw e-books and just like in the music industry, there are
sites that allow free downloads of e-books.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this article is this
speculation that e-books and printed books may be application specific.
In other words, e-books may be better suited for readers of fiction,
thrillers and romances. And paper books, which the WSJ claims it is for
weightier fare, may be better suited for literary fiction and
Personally, I dont agree with the idea that certain kinds of books
are better suited for one medium or the other. For me the decision is
much more basic, much like the decision we make in the supermarket of
either paper or plastic. I dont use paper for certain purchases and
plastic for others, most people prefer one or the other. However if you
made a better bag, that might impact my decision. For example, theres a
lot of excitement about a new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite feature that
predicts how long it will take to finish the chapter. A better e-book
might motivate more readers of e-books.
Whats your opinion? Are you buying more printed books or electronic
books? Do you prefer to read certain types of books electronically and
others on paper?
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