I’m the type of person that feels like she needs to answer every question asked. I like to help people and discover new information. I love answers. I often find myself answering questions that were meant to be rhetorical. So when I encountered each of Nathan Bransford’s several surveys about eBooks, I dutifully answered each one of them.
After casually exploring publishing stuff on the internet, I feel like everyone remotely involved with books is asking this question. I too was pulled in for a little while, thinking it was quite necessary for me to find an answer or come up with a reasonable prediction supported by facts about what the future of books and ebooks looks like.
But you know what? The best answer to that question, I finally discovered, is this: Let’s find out!
All this dramatic talk about whether eBooks is the future and will printed books stop being printed made me anxious every time I bought a book. If I bought a printed book, I’d stop just before getting in the checkout line (or one-clicking on Amazon) and wonder if I was contributing to a system that robs starving writers of their profits and if by keeping print book companies in business, I’m holding back the future. Every time I bought an eBook, I paused before reading it, wondering if I had just contributed to a future devoid of the romance of the printed page, the delight of holding a real book in one’s hands, and one where copyright law is impossible to enforce.
There are ups and downs to both sides. But now I realize that there might not be any sides at all.
Since Nathan’s first survey back in 2007, I find I have simply started reading more in both formats than subtracting one from the other.
I have my printed books that I read when I’m at home. I also use them to fill the beautiful bookshelves my grandpa made for me so that I’m never very far away from being able to read.
Then I have my eBooks for those times when I have a few moments to spare unexpectedly: grocery store lines, a cancelled appointment, or when I can’t get to sleep but don’t want to bother with a bulky reading light.
AND — I also “read” via audiobooks on my 45 minute drive to work. (I’m rather surprised no one has debated if audiobooks are the future or worried that they will be too popular for other formats to exist. I mean, I know it’s kind of obvious since audiobooks have been around for awhile, but I still feel like they’re left out when conversations about book formats arise.)
So really, I don’t know if eBooks are the future or if I will ever someday be an only eBook reader. All I can tell from my very small data sample (that is, me and the time since eBooks have existed), is that eBooks enable me to read more. We’ll see where it goes from there.
Even this chart from an Amazon kindle event agrees with me!
See that? eBooks are incredible and have surpassed book sales. But do you see the book sales going down? Not really. This makes me happy. Keep reading, people! 😀