The Evolution of E-Books and Our Literary Future

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What would our world look like without paperback books? One publishing company has taken one step closer to the reality of eliminating paperback books entirely. Dorchester Publishing has decided to change its printing schedule, focusing first on e-books, followed by a print-on-demand run of paperbacks. The question is: will this be the trend for paperback book publishers to follow?

Jason Boog, publishing editor at Mediabistro, and the editor of the publishing blogs and, says sales of mass market paperbacks have decreased significantly in the past year. Boog says, "Many people are thinking this may be the end of the mass market paperback."  

Nancy Davenport, the Director of Library Services for the District of Columbia Library, says a shift to e-books is happening, but the library is far from obsolete. The DCLS has incorporated e-books into their book collections.  Davenport says, "People come in to browse and, unless there's something they want to read on the shelves, [they then] browse the digital catalog of books."


Jason Boog and Nancy Davenport

Produced by:

Samantha Fields and Amanda Moore

Comments [4]


I'm not ready for ebooks yet...or rather, they're not ready for me, for several reasons. (I can see the appeal for those who perhaps travel and don't want to carry multiple heavy books, or for college students who don't want to drag around/store huge textbooks, but none of those things applies to me)

1. This is my biggest reason right here. I don't buy books. There are very few books I want to read more than once, let alone own. I check books out from the library, and when I'm done, they go back. When I can take my Kindle or Nook to the library, have access to the same selection of books I'd have in paper, download a book for free and then get rid of it when I'm done reading (or have it self-erase on its due date), I'll think about getting an e-reader and doing some e-books. Even if the e-books are cheap, I still do not want to waste three bucks on something I will never read again and do not want to waste the storage space on. Also, do all e-readers use the same formatting, or are they proprietary and you can't switch between brands of readers to read the same book?

2. Books are cheap, relatively speaking, and pretty durable. I can take a book in the bathtub, to the beach, let it clunk around in a backpack, and if it is ruined by water, sand, sun, or rattling around, the most I'm out is 30 bucks, maybe 50 if it's a really thick and desirable hardcover, as opposed to a couple hundred for a more-fragile e-reader.

3. Books are forever. I'll still have a copy of a paper book in a hundred years. How long is the current e-book format going to last, and what happens when it becomes obsolete?

4. I like the feel of a real book. Sometimes just the feel of a book in my hand enhances the experience of reading it--perhaps the shape, the size, the thickness, the texture on the cover, the way it feels to turn the pages.

5. A real books's pages are easy to flip back and forth through. Have never used an e-reader, but I bet it's more involved.

There are probably a billion reasons why I'll pass on e-readers over real books right now, but they are not all coming to mind at the moment and are likely too numerous to list here. If something changes in future, maybe my mind will too, but not yet.

Aug. 11 2010 10:26 PM
JiaoJiao from Oklahoma City

An e-book can never match the feeling of reading a real book...the crack of the spine, the flip of the page, the smell of the newly printed pages. Plus, a book is more than just entertainment. It's an experience...going to the library, browsing the shelves or curling up in a comfy chair.

How many times have you recommended a book to someone, pulled it off your shelf to share. That experience would be lost! And what about the books you're saving to share with your child? Are you going to press a kindle or a nook up to your child's face when they're a baby? No, you're going to sit in bed with them with a big colorful picture book. And gifts! Some of the best gifts I've ever given and received have been books. How do you give an e-book? The online receipt that says download here?

In my life, an e-book will never replace the physical pages of a real book!

Aug. 11 2010 02:40 PM
karma from New England

Wow. I don't know anyone who throws away books!! I donate mine to charities or hospitals, sell them to used book stores or give them to new readers. There's no shortage of re-use for them.

Aug. 11 2010 10:14 AM
Sydney from Detroit

I've had my e-reader for six months, and lately I find that when I do read a "real" paper book it's become an inferior experience. Books held in one hand strain my wrists and make my hands ache, and even with a book stand pages flip of their own volition and don't want to stay put unless I crack the spine (sacrilege!). I do miss the smell of a new book, and having pretty cover art to look at, but the ability to carry my entire library in my purse -- and to buy a new book anywhere on the planet at any time -- makes such details petty and irrelevant. Forget jetpacks; *this* is future I've been waiting for.

Aug. 11 2010 09:09 AM

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