Sunday, August 7, 2011

The printed book is doomed: here's why

Our children will grow up with ebooks and they'll always view printed books as a less convenient relic, writes Shane Richmond.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a senior executive from a big Silicon Valley company. We talked about digital media and in passing he mentioned digital books. “I doubt that my daughter will ever buy a physical book,” he said. His daughter is nine.

Later, I thought about my two-year-old daughter. She already has lots of books but they’ve all been bought for her by adults, obviously. When she has her own pocket money will she buy a printed book? At first I was sure that she will. Our house is full of books and she loves exploring them. But the more I think about it, the less sure I am.

Last week, Penguin announced that digital sales now make up 14 per cent of its total business. John Markinson, Penguin’s chairman and chief executive, described the first six months of this year as “a watershed for book publishers and book retailers alike”.

Fourteen per cent of the market is still small but it’s growing. Printed books are doomed and here is why.

I’ve been switching between ebooks and printed books for the last couple of years. I’ve read ebooks on a Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle and on an iPad. I still like printed books; I like the design of them, I like how they feel and I like to browse a well-stocked shelf of books. (more)