Today someone asked me whether eBooks and whatever is next will ultimately replace print. I get this question a lot, and I've probably touched on the subject somewhere in this blog. However, I think I have a clearer view as to why print is here to stay, and it's broken down into five fancy smidgens (in no particular order).
5. eBooks Lost Their Mojo.
For the last four years, eBooks held a triple digit percent of the book market. However, now eBooks are only 34% again and are falling further. I believe there were many circumstances that led to this bad fortune, but one that stands out is the appeal of eBooks.
With Amazon as the big name acting forward in a concentrated period of eReaders, readers had a less expensive and more accessible way to read. More and more people held jobs that required regular travel. Many people still do. So the ideal thing to do in-between flights and a the hotel, was to bring along a book. It works well as a first choice and an in-case-I-get-bored plan. eReaders allowed you to buy books at a much lower price (due to the absence of raw materials) and store thousands of them on a lightweight device.
Then tablets - the failure of the early 1990s - snuck onto the scene. And destroyed it.
Now eReaders are far and few. At best, you'll be able to pick up a in-between model of an reader, somewhat akin to a Gameboy Black & White or Pocket.
With the ability of searching the web, watching Netflix, checking emails, using Facebook, listening to music, etc. eBooks were left behind, as pieces of their shattered allure and completely forgotten by the very same device that was popularized by the boom of eReaders.
Also, with the ability to be given away, shared, and illegally downloaded, the perceived value of an eBook is far less than it originally was.
Let's face it: Some old-fashioned ways are worth clinging on to for dear life. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey revealed - even in the age of tablets, tablets, tablets - readers still prefer print by large. Even if they do use a eReader and think they read more eBooks than print because of it, the numbers show the truth.
Check out what they discovered:
The report showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%. But it also revealed that fully 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book during the preceding 12 months. Only 30% reported reading even a single e-book in the past year.
3. Lost in the Shuffle.
Books like Fifty Shades of Grey would've never succeeded without the availability of eBooks. Every so often, the digital form produces a powerhouse novel in terms of sales. However, the market is heavily genre-focused. The books that are advertised on your store screen are often more quick-entertainment focused like those you would find in physical stores from Barnes & Noble to a dollar store.
Now, I'm a genre writer myself, so I don't think there's anything wrong with the books. But some are written in a familiar, quickly digestible formula to compete with the impulsive nature of apps, videos, social networking, and so on.
In other words, there are tons of eBooks in the genre market and many of them go unnoticed. However, from time to time, a real phenomenon occurs. A new novel has brought in millions of dollars. But it's one big pay check with some merchandising residuals, and then nothing for awhile.
If you're wishing eBooks were the death of print, then I'm your arc-nemesis. Back when Excluded came out, the coolest thing was just have someone pay for your work. Like, this is good enough for $X. Admittedly, what would've been cooler was if there was also a print version.
Of course, Excluded is still a cool moment in my book. There's just something so wonderful about physically holding a book you wrote. Online, sometimes things can really seem like pretend. Here's a picture and words, which is a terrific bundle altogether, but the binding, the texture of the cover, the binding, the binding.
So if you haven't figured it out by now, authors really want their books to take a physical form, and thus far we're winning.
1. They Don't Always Serve the Same Purpose.
Ever since I discovered my first eReader (albeit a tablet now), I've held the view that sometimes I read an eBook, and sometimes I read the print version. For instance, although there has been much improvement in this marketplace, textbooks have yet to take a beneficial digital form. Much more savvy researchers and writers have figure out great ways to incorporate a digital format to coincide with the text book as an extra tool to enhance your learning.
I hold the opinion that I use the formats for different reasons. The textbook scenario is once example, but the rest are a little unclear. In fact, I'm not alone on this ambiguity. According the same Pew research, 90% of readers still use bother variations of books. Pew reports there seems to be a different use for each, but the reasoning is unclear.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.