Author Nicholas Carr penned an interesting article
for The Wall Street Journal
in which he argues that printed books will always be here. Despite ominous portents that soon all printed books will simply disappear into the mists of time, Carr says that eventually ebooks will become like paperbooks -- simply another format choice.
Carr notes, "E-books, in other words, may turn out to be just another format—an even lighter-weight, more disposable paperback. That would fit with the discovery that once people start buying digital books, they don't necessarily stop buying printed ones." He cites a Pew study that says that nearly 90% of people who read ebooks also continue to read printed books.
Carr discusses the fact that sales of e-readers declined 36% in 2012. The rate of growth in sales of ebooks is also down, but it's still growing. The majority of the books sold in digital format are fiction. For some reason, nonfiction readers prefer to hold a weighty volume in hardcover. The majority of ebooks sold are fantasy, sf and romance. Genre fiction is booming in digital form.
One of the biggest complaints readers have is that ebooks are too expensive. Many readers say that ebooks should be less expensive because they are produced faster and there are no printing or paper costs. But this complaint ignores the fact that the cost to acquire, edit and promote an ebook is the same as it is for a paper book. And the author has to spend the same amount of time writing an original book, regardless of what format it ends up in. The publisher's overhead is the same and the agent still gets his cut. The fact that a reader cannot re-sell or give away the ebook when he is done reading does seem to diminish the value of the book in most readers' minds.
For now, there is room for all kinds of books, in many format. The important thing is that people keep reading.