Cafe Doom

The Critique Crypt => Craft Threads => Topic started by: Out of the Jar on May 26, 2011, 03:00:42 PM

Title: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: Out of the Jar on May 26, 2011, 03:00:42 PM
So; it's official.  Amazon's ebook sales have surpassed their print sales.  Is this the beginning of the end for the printed word?  Perhaps, and we are certainly in for some changes concerning how fiction is sold and perceived, but the extinction of books, and magazines, and (say it ain't so) bookstores and libraries?  Well, libraries are already not what they used to be, but this is likely due more to increased consumer pressures to buy rather than borrow [Netflix for books?  Is this a Million Dollar Idea?], and bookstores are suffering in the current economy, but does that mean we can predict readers of the future reading their stories only on electronic media?  I'm not so sure.

What do you guys think?

I wrote a blog about it: (

Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: eagle37 on May 27, 2011, 02:46:47 AM
I think its inevitable that at some point printed books will become a rarity and much much more expensive than they are now. I'm guessing limited run special editions, that sort of thing

And what I will really miss about that is not the feel of a 'real book' in my hand, but the filtering process that the conventional printing world applies to the quantum foam of drivel at the bottom of the digital publishing pond.I know its not a perfect filter, but its better than nothing. At least one other person will have read it and agreed its merits beforfe it is published.

Before anybody flames me, I'm not bitching about indie pubs or authors (love 'em both), but just wishing there was some way the trash and the fraudsters could be weeded out. I've got stunning stories I paid nothing for, and so called 'serious' works that cost real money and were utter rubbish.

If digital publishing wants to open itself to the world, I would like to see much more 'try before you buy'.

Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: Ed on May 27, 2011, 03:04:09 AM
I wonder if it's going to go the same way as vinyl in music. Me and the missus recently went into a record shop we used to go in when we were kids. They hardly sell any music at all, now. Not even CDs. They had a sale on limited edition vinyl the other day and ended up with a queue around the block. People came from all over the place, even one couple from Holland.

So yeah, I think it'll end up with a few old stalwarts who never buy anything but the real thing, but for the most part I think it will go digital.

My concern is how quickly the formats change in media. I still have a load of home movies trapped on VHS cassette, and that was only taken ten years ago. There's also the issue of how digital media suddenly disappears without warning, be it through a faulty hard drive that suddenly crashes, or some form of DRM that takes away your right to read the work. There's nothing quite as reassuring as having a hard copy of something on a shelf that you can call your own.

Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: marc_chagall on May 27, 2011, 03:26:44 AM
Yep. What Ed said.

I have a load of recordings of myself playing gigs but they're all on cassettes, and the last cassette player in the house recently stopped working. On the other hand, I have some 78s, one or two of which are extremely old (eg a performance by the Imperial Russian Orchestra) and they still play perfectly, whether on a wind-up gramophone or a modern turntable. I just have to remember not to drop them on a hard surface, but immersion in water would do them no harm at all. They'd even still play if seriously warped by heat.

Books are like 78s. You don't need power to read them, other than a bit of light from some source or other. They can't stop 'working' unless you tear the pages out and turn them into a papier maché vase or something. They are even readable after being dropped in the bath a few times.

Having said that, I've just signed a contract with my publisher for 'Small Poisons' to be released as an e-book. It's now in preparation and will be available in all formats shortly. I'll still prefer the paperback version, but that's neither here nor there.  ::)

Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: delboy on May 27, 2011, 07:40:43 AM
I have a Kindle and I love it. Early days yet, but for what it does it does very well. However, I only love it about a twentieth as much as I love a real book. Maybe those feelings will change... But I suspect not. However, my generation will one day all be gone and it's then, and during that slow wind down, that the use of new media will take over. I don't see a large percentage of kids buying and reading books anymore. Just old codgers like me.


Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: Grillmeat on May 27, 2011, 07:25:22 PM
I think the written word is going to go the way music did-nearly all digital. I agree with delboy, once folks over forty are gone I can't really see too many people buying magazines and books.

Title: Re: Do You Think E-books Will Ever Replace the Printed Word?
Post by: jsorensen on May 29, 2011, 09:17:20 PM
I remember back in college (early 90s) there was talk of the implications of the "e book."  At the time I thought it was a waste of effort--who would give up the printed page to stare at a monitor screen for hours on end.  But now that social media devices have pretty much secured their place in our society, the rise of electronic media can't be ignored.  I don't think that half of our population could survive without their cell phones or MP3s.  Even our interpersonal skills have changed--cell phone calls take precedent over personal contact and hell to those who are on the phone when another call comes in.  I watch as students find it nearly impossible to actually force their hands to write a paragraph on paper but can somehow send 500 texts in an hour...I love the page, the smell of it, the feel of it and I even love how it ages...pencil marks, color coded underlining (even though I forget what the colors mean) have been a staple of mine for decades...but the newer generations brought up on headphones and digital copy movies to whittle their time away at the bus stop or waiting in the line of a grocery store...they will determine the look of stories in the next few years and I think it will be seems that its the "reader," the MP3, or the newest model of cell phone that's important...everything else almost seems disposable...

Don't get me wrong--things come and go and progress moves love of the printed book is one thing, but my knidle takes up a lot less space...

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