1. Red Rain
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    Red Rain Member

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    Will books ever go fully Digital?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Red Rain, Mar 14, 2013.

    To me, there is nothing like holding a physical book in your hand, but the times are changing fast. With the development of technology, comes the hard truth that physical books will eventually be a relic of the past

    Last year, printed book sales decreased by 5%, e-books increased by nearly 45%, the decline in printed books being offset a little by the incline of digital sales. This has been the case every year since the introduction of Kindle in 2007, the sales of e-books really taking off in 2009.

    I know, I know, people have been saying this since the WWW was created. Libraries, the postal service, and the phone companies were all going out of business as soon as the internet became popular. But there is one huge difference between all those businesses and printed books.

    Businesses can evolve; they can grow and change to meet the needs of the consumer. If the market is trending away from printed books, the businesses will follow suit. They will cut costs and streamline processes in order to increase profit, and they have. The writing industry has done this to meet the needs of the consumer and to survive the ever changing world of the book market.

    One of the newer innovations is POD (Print on demand), enabling your publisher to print copies of your book when it is purchased. Most if not all of you have heard and understand what this is, a very cost effective way to publish your books and increase profit dollars. But in my opinion, this is just another step towards the eventual death of printed copy. Eventually the industry will take that next step and only offer the book for sale on line, as getting rid of inventory and printing costs will just add more money to their bottom line. If you couple this trend with the continuous growth of e-books, and the 98% increase of tablet sales in 2012, this is a real possibility.

    Let’s face one cold hard fact; even though everyone in the industry has a deep love for the written word, the bottom line is we all have to make money. If you are fortunate enough to get your work published, you don’t want to see it sit on bookshelves collecting dust, you want people to buy it. You want to reap the rewards from all your hard work. And if that means you will have to go digital in order to do so, you will.

    What do you guys think? Will the printed word ever fully be replaced by the digital one? Will physical copies of books become rare art like the Mona Lisa someday?

    References:


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jan/09/printed-book-sales-2012
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-printondemand

    http://bgr.com/2012/04/10/tablet-sales-to-double-in-2012/


    And for all those that read the whole thing: A link to a bookstore success story :)

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/philjohnson/2012/05/10/the-man-who-took-on-amazon-and-saved-a-bookstore/
     
  2. Mathieu
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    Mathieu Member

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    No. I hope and doubt that there will be a replacement for a real book.

    My friends prefer reading and collecting real books/mangas, it's just a different and better feeling to feel the cover or hold the physical thing, looks beautifully ordered on a cupboard.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ebooks are growing in sales, yes - but they are still only a percentage of total book sales. And POD has been around for some time, and unfortunately, really isn't as economical as one would think. I mean, let's face it - this is why assembly line manufacturing was successful, because it was cheaper and more efficient to produce in quantity than one at a time. Add in the fact that the cost of printed books is only about 10% of the total cost of producing a book, so there really isn't that much money to be saved with e-publishing. Bookstores may have a struggle ahead, but I don't see that for printed books.

    I always hark back to the predictions of a paperless society - and I'm still waiting for that (some 35 years later)...
     
  4. Red Rain
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    Red Rain Member

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    I was just reading more on it and found that the the only market e-books is really overtaking at the moment is adult fiction paperback books. Hardcover books are holding strong so far. One of the reasons submitted is the thought you shared above. Hardcover books being more of an investment for the reader, a collectors item, as compared to paperbacks that are being catergorized as "disposable"

    I certainly have quite a collection of both myself.
     
  5. Red Rain
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    Red Rain Member

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    I looked into the POD concerns and your right, there are issues with the quality of production. Customers complaining about missing pages when they get the finished product and the quality of the print is an issue as well.

    As for the prediction, I cannot predict anything, and as I read my opening post again, I realize it came across that way. I can see trends in the market and offer up some thought for discussion, which is truly the only intention I had when I posted.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    My worry is that this process will not be left to evolve naturally, but will be pushed relentlessly by the companies that stand to make money by it. I think Kindle is fine for those who like it, or for those people who travel a lot and want to read while they do. However, I don't see it replacing my non-fiction books, the ones I use for research, or whatever. Kindle books are NOT at their best when they contain material you want to skim over in non-chronological order. Do I want my Arts and crafts books, my cookbooks, these kinds of books to be available only on Kindle? No, I don't.

    I think technology is fine, but I'm always concerned when it replaces something that already works well. Where are all the people who work in bookstores, or pack cartons for Amazon, or who deliver packages ordered from Amazon going to find jobs, when books are suddenly withdrawn from the world? It's not just the technology itself that people need to think about.

    And I haven't even touched on the issue of control. You put all books in the hands of a few digital distributors, then watch and see which books get 'removed' from their lists, or don't get on them at all. And watch the price of each download soar. I'm afraid it'll be Lowest Common Denominator time again. I really like variety, and the depth that diversity brings. I worry when I see things happening that threaten diversity.
     
  7. molark
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    molark Member

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    I like the the daring augur of the e-book, the vast collection i was able to have on my tablets until the tablets broke. No, I don't think they will replace the real thing as long as you can pull the plug and you will have nothing. In fact, I can safely bet that in all the underground shelters throughout the world, except for those in fantasy, dazzling tales, you will have copies of the the bible and Of Mice and Men, the Three Musketeers and perhaps the Quran.

    I know nothing of POD yet. And as long as there are teens and elderly of considerable digital skill, you won't have to worry about prices.
     
  8. Red Rain
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    Red Rain Member

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    No need to worry about all that at the moment, what I must stress to you is these are trends. What is trending up this week could be trending down next week. Most likely these sales will flatten out, which means that e-books will have found their place in the market, but not overtake it (yet).

    When I originally posted, I was asking the questions in regards to the very far future, forty or even fifty years from now, not really seeing it as something that would overtake the market today.
     
  9. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Just wait until 2038 when humanity achieves singularity. Book design will change then!!!...

    *the sound of footsteps running into the distance as I leg it from this thread*
     
  10. Red Rain
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    Red Rain Member

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    True, my daughters tablet has broken three times, the screen just went black and looked as though it had been cracked.(She says it wasn't her fault)

    We called the company and they sent the first one out for free, then charged us for the other two. When you got a new tablet, didn't the collection of books you had show up again?
     
  11. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    See, this is another reason I'm not jumping on the ebook bandwagon - machines break. Programs die. Print books aren't indestructible, obviously, but you can toss it on the couch without worrying about more than a bent page, and the words won't suddenly disappear from the paper without warning. I've gone through enough computers, VCRs, printers, scanners, and hard disks to know that machines are not nearly as reliable as we would like - not to mention the planned obsolescence factor (ever try running a favorite Windows 98 program on Windows 7?).
     
  12. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Planned obsolescence? Progress more like. Microsoft software (and indeed most modern software) is very backwards compatible but every so often, the old ways of doing something reach their limits. The technology has to be rewritten from the ground up and sometimes this means older stuff might not work. You make it sound like some sort of conspiracy when it actually isn't anything of the sort. The differences between Windows 98 and Windows 7 are so fundamental that it's amazing Windows 7 can actually run many "Windows on DOS" programs without any tweaking.
     
  13. BlackCatMagick
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    BlackCatMagick Member

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    It better not happen in my lifetime. I believe Barnes & Noble is now closing 15 stores a year. That's why I hoard books. Especially my beloved antique collection. I have poetry volumes that date back to the late 1800's. I need to hold a book, turn the pages, smell the century-old paper and wonder how many hands held it before me. You just can't get that with a damn e-book.

    You know what else is really sickening? Technology in schools. I have a cousin who's a high school teacher, and she told me all the students are issued an iPad instead of textbooks. They do assignments electronically and everything. The result is kids who can't write. They're great typers, but they don't know what to do with a pencil and paper. She also told me they're going to stop teaching cursive handwriting! I've been writing in cursive since I was in second grade, for godsakes.

    That's the next generation. Eventually, the country may be run by people who can't even sign their own name. The world could be run by computers someday.
     
  14. molark
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    molark Member

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    Yes, same strangeness to my screen. I bought Chinese cheap ones, thinking I could avoid all the extra shrill expense. In two-three years when they take over as the definitive tool for consumer consumption and education -- these tablets are truly on their way -- they will be $100 and under, their true price, as in India. I argue that in America we should by now be promoting manufacturing plants in impoverished communities where the unemployed simply solder the chips on the pc boards (cut the fantasy robots), simple, without all the Apple-Microsoft-Google frills and high mobile contracts. Those plants located next to tech schools.

    And yes, BlackCatMagick, that is a serious concern.
     
  15. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    A market has to adapt to the customers. If the readers prefer printed books, there will always be printed books. I do believe digital sales will rise in the coming years, but only until a certain point before it flattens out.
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I feel sadder about used book stores. A few have closed down around where I live. All of the nice editions of books I own have come from used book stores. BN and other such chains are large enough that they can survive in the short term (perhaps even in the long term if they play their cards right).
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it wasn't planned obsolescence, all programs would run on all versions of Windows. (Windows 7 can only run some DOS programs if it's 32 bit - the 64 bit requires finding workarounds that hopefully will work.) As long as people have been complaining about the compatibility problems (like since Windows started getting upgrades), Microsoft should know by now how to deal with it.
     
  18. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    I dont see how it's planned obsolescence. Why would it be? Windows dont control the software other developers create for their operating system. Their job is to create the operating system and have it support all current standards. Some code is just so out of date that there is no point having support for it just sitting there and slowing down the computer. I certainly would not like to have all the extra garbage subroutines eating into my batteri life for example.

    Besides, there are always ways to make the old software work, you just have to hack it.
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, that's the thing - you shouldn't have to 'hack it'. At any rate, this is a bit of a derail. I was only pointing out another reason why I don't care for ebooks or the machines used for them.
     
  20. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    You may say what ever you want about e-book i love them and if not for them i probably would not have read as many books as i liked, i live in a place were its hard to get books in English i dont like translated versions for me its not the same, we cant order books online either dont know if that has changed but last time i checked i still couldnt order anything, plus i travel and with e-books i get to take my library of 4000 books with me.

    I would love to have hard copies of the books i love but if i cant find them than am happy to had the chance to read them at least on my tablet.

    So yeah you may not like it but people who live in third world countries and want to read love them.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    In my sci-fi world, everything's gone digital. ;)
     
  22. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    It's progress. Languages move on and develop (granted it's over a longer timescale) and backwards compatibility isn't always guaranteed. Many people mention books that have survuved through the centuries...I'd challenge anyone but a specialist to read anything written in Old English and most people would have a difficult time with Middle English. I dare even say that books written in the 18th Century would present the majority of readers with a challenge. Following your logic, progress = planned obsolescence.

    What about the transition to unleaded fuel? What about the decline of steam power in the face of the internal combustion engine and electricity? What about the progression from horse and cart to the modern car? Are all of these planned obsolescences as well? One could even ask about the changes in battlefield tactics over the centuries. The sword and spear used to be the weapon of choice, now it is the rifle. The tragedy of the Somme was largely caused by ignorant conservative generals using outdated tactics in the face of new technology (in this case artillery).

    For all programs to work on all versions of windows there would be no development of the software, it would have to be a fixed system. If that were the case we would all still be using a DOS prompt and a command line interface because the implementation of a WIMP gui would be classed as planned obsolescence.

    All systems are organic and develop. All systems become obsolete when a better system comes along and does the same thing more efficiently or effectively. It has absolutely nothing to do with planned obsolescence. A fixed system that does not progress or develop will eventually cease to be of use.
     
  23. edamame
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    edamame Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think paper books will disappear altogether, but unfortunately, I feel they'll one day no longer be used in everyday reading. As some others mentioned, book stores have been shutting down and even some of my local Barnes and Nobles have cut back on their shelving space to expand their toddler toy section. Of course, I think the process of going full digital will take a long time since paper books are more affordable in some ways and it takes time for new generations to get tech savvy.

    That said, I recently read an article about how learning to write script was dying out in schools because script has become increasing obsolete. The sad thing was the only use some youngster had for it was learning to write a pretty signature. I can't help but think of how it reflects on where paper books may go.
     
  24. blahfeld
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    blahfeld New Member

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    Short answer to the original question: Yes. Books will go completely digital.

    It won't happen over night, nor everywhere (remember some people in the world don't even have their own telephone), and some books will still be printed (especially non-fiction books with lots of visuals), but the trend for a lot of books is irreversible. Apart from print-on-demand, or vanity press / self publishing, the fate of physical novels is sealed. Non-fiction that is not graphics-heavy will follow.

    Note that I say this as someone who has never read a book on an e-reader or tablet! I love my "real" books. But I see the signs. Goodbye paperback.
     
  25. AVCortez
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    AVCortez Active Member

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    Yep, I wrote an article about this. I used the word curmudgeonly three times. My greatest success. People seem to think that because it hasn't happened already it will never happen. Flash-forward a thousand years, if we even have trees left, I really doubt they'll be using it to print fiction.

    Peoples attachment to pulp will die, in the next 100 years, which is about four generations. Kids will flop out of the human birthing pools and a robot will hand them a tablet. Without any attachment to print, it will be a novelty. The idea of printing a book will be like modern bands pressing vinyl.
     

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