It is written …
For the month of November, I read a total of four ebooks. I didn’t read any book printed on paper, at all, and that marks a first for me. Nevertheless, before I get too carried away I might remind myself that I own somewhere in the region of 5,000 hard copy books, and maybe 25 ebooks. I am not about to become an electronic-only reader.
The fact that this is still very much an emerging market is made clear by the fact that US publisher Simon & Schuster recently stated that 7 per cent of its book sales are now ebook versions. That may not sound much, but five years ago the figure would have been zero. I would guess that by 2020 it will be well over 50 per cent.
Apart from the obvious questions about habit and taste that will determine how fast the ebook spreads, we should also be asking how publication will work in future. As you and I can now publish for free whatever we want on a huge number of blogs and other websites, will that be the model for book publishing – or will we need a more traditional type publisher to promote and market our work?
Books contain the narrative of our society and our world. They are a distinct source of knowledge, distinguishable from newspapers and magazines. They have a sense of shape, both physically and intellectually. Can this be maintained in electronic format?
As ebook reader devices become ever more sophisticated, I am willing to bet that this is the future of authoring and reading. However, I will also bet that in 10 years I will still on occasion take a leather-bound volume off the shelf and settle down to read it. If I’m spared.