Electronic or Traditional Books? An Irrelevant Question

29 Oct

The battle continues as the printed book industry fights the crippling effects of e-books. Undeniably, the increasingly popular new technology has bullied the dwindling traditional medium. E-book sales trumped hardback sales this summer, consumption of the former swelling 191 percent from last year, as reported by The Association of American Publishers . Contrarily, the printed book saw sales decrease in every category but one.The lasting triumph for printed books lies with academics. Textbooks have found a cozy niche with students, despite the decrease in demand for most printed medium. Educational textbook publishers, particularly higher education, saw the only boost in sales besides e-books. A 13.5 % jump increase from last year to this year reveals the demand for traditional learning, according to an article published  Oct. 19 by the New York Times.

Access to books has been the hallmark of higher education for centuries, and students maintain their connection to education through the pages of history textbooks, literature anthologies, and technical instruction books.

The textbook industry may be safe from the whirlwind of digital advances, but the majority of book manufacturers are struggling to cope with the cheap, digitized e-books.

Traditional book businesses  have taken a step forward in declaring their resilience. Last week, social media and print media collided to form what we hope to be, a sale bolstering union. The social networking site GetGlue signed a deal with major book publishers Random House, Penguin, Simon and Schuster and Hatchett Book Group. The deal allows GetGlue users to use “stickers” to show friends what kind of books they are reading, which they can sync to “liking” on Facebook. The site allows users to keep up with entertainment, like movies and artists, and share their “likes” with friends. Based on the titles selected, the site offers personalized suggestions on upcoming entertainment members may be interested in.

The alliance may boost sales for booksellers and publishers, but the fruits of the effort may lie with e-books yet again.

The vast array of titles offered is an attractive pull. Kindles and iPads are light, easy to carry, and fall perfectly in line with technology trends. One could argue that the hard metal carrier falters in comparison to the nostalgic extraneous.

In the end, books are books. The tit for tat between traditional book publishers and e-book carriers is moot.  Development of new technologies is inevitable, but irrelevant to the nature of literature. A bit of quaint comfort will be lost to the lighted screens and metallic edges of Kindles and iPads, but the words projected on the screen are no less poignant than the words printed on paper.

Are readers any less pained, any less shocked when Janie pulls the trigger and shoots her beloved Tea Cake in Their Eyes Were Watching God? Does the LCD screen limit the reader’s anticipation as the cursed carnival creeps into town in Something Wicked This Way Comes?

Like music and television, the book industry must change with the development of new technologies. Authors, sellers, and publishers must mold, transform to fit ongoing trends and demands. It’s not bad. It’s different. TSTC Publishing embraces the changes that technology brings. We are in the process of converting several titles into e-books.

Our society is enamored with the thought of becoming completely digital, enthralled with the idea of computerized culture. In my lifetime, I’ve watched music transform from a square, plastic cassette tape system into a neon stick the size of my thumb. As long as quality is not affected, the old media and new media can find a way to shape each other.

Books are written to be read, written to entertain, inform, inspire. Whether they are printed in ink or projected by light, they are still a powerful source of communication.



One Response to “Electronic or Traditional Books? An Irrelevant Question”

  1. Douglas Karr December 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    I still love cracking open a new, fresh book that no one has ever read before. I love the smell, the crispness of the pages… everything! I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to really enjoy a book on my mobile phone or with a tablet… but I’m also not sure it’s the death of the industry. It seems that epublishing should be much more profitable since you don’t actually have to use paper and all the costs with publishing, no?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: