I started reading a new book this weekend that Jen was kind enough to let my buy at Half Price Books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward R. Tufte. I am working through the chapter on data integrity and thought it was apropos to share this article with you about E-Books.
Last Tuesday’s post to the MIT Technology Review blog Mims’s Bits had a wonderfully literary title: The Death of the Book has Been Greatly Exaggerated. I liked the reference to Mark Twain’s remark upon reading his own obituary.
Here’s the key quote from the post:
Here’s the reality this kind of hype is up against: back of the envelope calculations suggest that ebooks are only six pecent of the total market for new books.
How can that be possible, when Amazon recently said that ebooks are outselling hard-cover books at Amazon.com? Easy: Amazon is only 19 percent of the total book market. Also, Amazon has something like 90 percent of the world’s ebook market.
At this point, I think I would be crying wolf one more if I re-stated my position about books vs. E-Books, something I have talked about extensively here. Allow me to make a connection, though.
When digital photography first came on the scene to the average consumer, these Mavicas were all the rage. I mean, who didn’t have a 3.5 floppy drive, and how great were those photos? So much easier than film, that it (film) should be dead in 5 years! Everyone was decrying the end of film photography, and embraced the glories of digital photography. Well, it has been over a decade since that specific camera came out – and what have we discovered? Digital is not the “messiah” of photography, and film is still in use. No, you say? Yes, I say:
Film is still relevant and is still manufactured. Of course the market has changed, but the complete acceptance of digital photography is not, and probably will not ever be completely extinct. Let me say, though, that I am creating a connection between two processes which are fundamentally different – creating an image and consuming text. There is an incredible array of books not digitized, and there are complex licensing and rights issues associated with E-Books. Are print books gone in five years? I say no, but the market will change in five years, presenting us as readers (and as librarians) with a new paradigm.
So, be careful what you read about E-Books (just like any other trend).