Enough with the fun and games, It’s time to talk about something serious. My topic of choice is book publishing, specifically why are they still printing records when they should be producing mp3s?
What I’m getting at is that producing a physical book is out-dated, cumbersome, and consumes resources and capital.
Don’t get me wrong, I love books. I slept with books in my crib. My Mecca is Powell’s City of Books. But the thing that I like more than books is reading and in today’s modern world there are simply better ways to read. Just like you wouldn’t carry a record player or Walkman around anymore to listen to music you shouldn’t have to carry around a heavy, clunky book.
And you shouldn’t want to. E-readers provide you with a slim light-weight device that can hold more books than will fit into most people’s houses. You can download books right to your device, you can share them with friends, you can check them out from the library. You can do everything you would with a regular book only faster, quicker and without reading a book covered in coffee and food stains.
Case study: I rarely bought books before I got my e-reader and I would never subscribe to magazines because as a college student I was constantly moving from place to place.
But now that I have an e-reader not only are books usually $10 cheaper in ePub format but when I buy one I don’t have to think about moving it up and down three flights of stairs every 3 months. Better yet I don’t have to worry about managing my magazine subscriptions because all i need is a WiFi connection and they download directly to my device.
So you have more people buying your product and it costs less to produce it? I haven’t taken a math class in four years but I’m pretty sure that sounds like winning.
And with less money at risk maybe publishing houses can branch out into more experimental genres and publish more books? If they don’t budding authors are apt to self-publish and make a million dollars without the middle man.
The losers of course will be the factories that print books and the stores that sell them. Just like the monks who transcribed books by hand were out of luck when the printing press was invented. But the thing about humans is that they like to adapt.
Yes, this new way of reading will require an “entry fee,” to buy a device that allows you to access the books. But over time competition will drive down the cost of e-readers and many people already own other devices that read ePub files like computers, or smart phones.
We should stop wasting time worrying about the demise of the physical “book,” and embrace ePublishing and all it has to offer. We’re on the cusp of something great.
I am very excited about the future of publishing. Because the winners in the long run, aside from trees, will be everyone that loves to read.