Romance By Catherine: The future of print books.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The future of print books.

As I walked around Barnes and Noble today I asked myself if I’d be doing this again a year from now. All those lovely paperback, hardback, and coffee table books tucked into every square inch of the store put a smile on my face and a twinkle in my heart. (Not sure what the heck a twinkle in my heart is… but it sounds good) Still, with the closing of Boarders, and the utter devastation of all the Mom and Pop bookstores of years gone by, I wonder where the future of bookstores is headed.

I know first hand the digital market is where we are right now today…and where we will be in the future. Hell, my 12 year old son said and I quote “Books are soooo 3000 years ago, Mom.” Smart A$$...still he has a point and a very perspective view on what’s going on, even when the big publishing world doesn’t. B&N tapped into the Nook long after the Kindle took off. One has to wonder if Borders would have had a different outcome had they not placed their heads in the sand years ago when digital was in its infancy.

If a 12 year old isn’t inclined to pick up a paperback to get his information, chances are he isn’t alone. When he goes to college… “Please, Lord let him go to college.” His textbooks will be on a Kindle or a Nook and his newspaper will be delivered automatically to the same digital format or directly to his inbox. Either way, the paper trail is ending my friends. I think we’ll always see ‘some’ books in print. A coffee table book about our National Forests simply wouldn’t be the same if not in print… thought even I have seen those futuristic coffee tables at Disneyland where they have pictures and a touch screen below your coastered drinks. Those blockbuster authors will have books in print… but have you noticed how many of said authors are self-publishing (taboo until the last couple of years) their books via the digital format? Who knows, maybe even they won’t have print books 10 years from now.

As an author, I hate to see print go. I love holding my own books… probably because this is what I grew up with. I’d imagine a musician my age misses vinyl. Kinda hard to picture a platinum hard drive framed and hanging on a wall. LOL - *sigh*

The big six publishers are cutting back, (can’t blame them when they aren’t making the money) and not signing back their mid-list authors… said authors are self-publishing the work their publishers won’t buy and making a good living for the first time ever. And you, the reader, are able to eat up books for under a buck on your e-readers.

Where are we going to be a year from now?



Jan Romes said...

This is a very well thought out post, Catherine! Food for thought!Thanks for sharing!


Jan Romes

Catherine Bybee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jan.

Joyce Henderson said...

Gosh, Catherine, I hope print books don't go the way of the Dodo bird anytime soon. Okay, so I'm old fashioned. I can live with that moniker. But I think it goes deeper than that. It's an intrinsic thing...holding a book, feeling the cover. Some of them are so soft, others are hard and shiny. Sorry, I sound demented. :) Still, I got the sayonara from Borders in my inbox this evening, and it makes me sad.

I have a Nook, and I enjoy reading on it, but still... Diehard that I am, I hope there're enough of us to keep the "printed" word viable for years to come.

Beth Trissel said...

Yes, well thought out, Catherine. Publishing is undergoing such a huge change it's difficult to say where it will be even in a year. I hope print books still play a significant role, but clearly ebooks are the future and the future is now.

Catherine Bybee said...

Joyce: Do you still have a record player? Probably not. A typewritter?... probably not. Just sayin'... I love 'em too. *sigh*

Beth: e-books = money... print books = smile... ebooks are gonna win.

Jannine Gallant said...

My Grandma still has a record player and a typewriter. Still no e-reader. But then she's 95... LOL!

Great post, Catherine.

Aithne Jarretta said...

Yes, Catherine, I feel with you. The awesome energy of walking through a library filled with books or the newness of Borders or Barnes & Nobles... sigh. Our Borders closed and it was a huge, beautiful and closeby store. I drive past and shake my head with deep sadness. True I enjoy my Kindle, but the feel of glossy covers, crisp pages and the scent of fresh print will linger with me always. Jeremy's college text books are already digital... Our local high school went to Kindle last year.

Thank you for this thought provoking post. Blessings. ;o)

Catherine Bybee said...

I bet she can't see squat anymore and doesn't read just like my Nana... huh, Jannine? LOL Guess Audio is the way to go for them.

Catherine Bybee said...

Aithne: Makes you want to hold on to every print book you can, while you can, huh? *sigh*

Amalie said...

Honestly, I'm not even sure I can back the eternity of the paper coffee table book. I can totally see people putting money into large, decorative readers for the coffee table. Even my grandmother has digital picture frames now (granted, we all have to load the pictures onto them for her), and what is the real difference between a digital frame and a proposed big digital 'frame' that beautifully displays a coffee table book full of high-res pictures?

Make it sturdy, spill-proof, etc. If that was its only function, I can see the price starting high and then plummeting -- just as it does with everything.

I'm sure once upon a time people thought the idea of your own tiny 'home cinema' was ridiculous, but how many houses in the Western world are sans TV even as late as the 1970s or 1980s?

Catherine Bybee said...

I hear ya, Amalie. I hear ya!

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Catherine--books aren't going away for a good while. I have no doubt they will sometime in the future, but look around--every business, every physician and hospital, everything keeps and uses paper records. This struck me in the doctor's office this week. I filled out a two-page info sheet every time I go. They may enter that info on the computer, but mostly the doctor comes in with a thick folder with my medical history tucked inside.
This is true all over the place.
Ebooks, yes, are growing by leaps and bound--but we "in the business" see it from out view and we begin to think almost everyone is reading eBooks. Not even close.
Less than 10% of the reading public buys eBooks.
This will grow--but prints won't go away. They will change, though, to all POD--or most of them anyway.

It's an interesting phenomenum, and I'm glad to be in on the groundfloor. Our grandchildren will read fewer print book, but they will read some. Not every parent can afford those pretty little tablets they're already making for children to read books--bright and colorful. They are really good. I could go on and on...but thanks for the thoughts this morning. Celia

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Such an important topic for readers and authors alike. I know the independent bookstore in our neighborhood is thriving but they rely more on events and promoting local authors. Maybe this is the way bookstores are headed? There was once a time when everyone cried out against places like B&N and Borders and now we are sad to see them go!

Mona Risk said...

Yes, the print books will go away but not in our lifetime. We grew up holding books. It's difficult to let go, but our small children and grandchildren are growing with laptop, ipad, blackberry, and more that I can't even name. My grandson is four and plays his games on a laptop with a little mouse Daddy gave him.

For these children, it will be very easy to continue to read or study on digital readers. Already in Japan, kids don't carry books because it hurt their backs. They only carry their latest smart cell phone with everything on it.

So the children will not have the culture shock we are experiencing. Already my husband and I are reading the news on the Internet and not on newspapers. I have almost stopped buying books. Now I download my ebooks regularly. It’s fantastic to go on a trip with so many books on my ereader. If you look around you in airports, cruise ships, cafes, people are using ereaders.

Vonnie Davis said...

Calvin reads 2 newspapers a day on his Kindle. I use mine for my romances. My grandchildren read Harry Potter and super hero books on theirs. We still enjoy holding books, too. An exciting time just watching how the giants handle the change...not very well from what I see. They've ruled the publishing world for so long; change for them comes at a snails pace while the rest of the world flies by.

Nightingale said...

I believe electronic publishing is the way to go. So far my published works has been e-books, but I'd love to hold a book of my own in my hand!

Marie Tuhart said...

Great post, Catherine. I don't think print books will completely disappear, not for a while. There are still a lot of people who want print. Until the price of e-readers come down and that same e-reader can read all formats without having to go through another program to translate it, I think it will be a while before others jump on the e-reader bandwagon.

I love the idea of text books on e-readers, only because I remember high school and college lugging those darn things around. It's better for the kids.

The younger generation really does embrace the e-readers, but even with my nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, they like holding a book. My great-niece who turn 18 this year loves going to the bookstore and getting print books.

I think its all how the children are raised, with e-books or print.
For myself, I have both, I still love print, but also support e-books.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

I hate to think of print books going away. But, I can see the trend moving more and more toward e-books. In fact, on my 13 yr old g'daughter's list of school supplies for this year is jump drives. Egads! My daughter finished her master's degree last year and most of her text books were downloadables. Very big sigh. At least I have my vast library of 'print' books which are rapidly being considered dinosaurs. Excellent post!

Jill James said...

Whenever the eBook vs. paper discussion comes up I envision Star Trek. I can see the Captain's quarters with a hardcover edition of Moby Dick in a glass case. It is treasured, but it isn't read. It is an antique to enjoy.

I've been watching Falling Skies. (alien invasion, end of the world as we know it) In a scene there is a pile of books and the professor weighs two of them in his hands. Which will weigh less to carry in his backpack for the long march? He knows he can't carry both. He takes one, tosses the other one back on the pile.

If an ereader had solar power, he could carry them all.

Catherine Bybee said...

Celia: I agree that POD is going to be the new wave of print books. But the hospitals I've worked at and have been to are nearly all paperless. Well, as much as they can be anyway.

Jennifer: I hope the small bookstores come back. I agree there has to be a place for authors to go, for readers to smell and touch.

Mona: God willing I have another 40 years left in life, I'll bet the mass majority of print books will be history by the time I'm gone.

Catherine Bybee said...

Vonnie: The only thing I get the paper for anymore is the coupons... and even those can sometimes be found online.

Marie: Textbooks going to ebooks are the smartest thing ever. Think of all the trees saved!

Loretta: chalk boards are a thing of the past... we have 'smart' boards at our local elementary school. Computerized... digital... amazing.

Catherine Bybee said...

Nightingale: Thanks for stopping by.

Jill: Oh, I wish I had that on tape. Go figure, 30 years ago... has it been that long? Star Trek knew books would be long gone.

Aithne said...

Hey Catherine,

Yes, I'm holding on to all my print books. (especially those by Catherine Bybee ;)

It's amazing to actually take a look at everyone's perspectives about this.

I wonder how history will remember these special changes in 20 years?

Have a wonderful weekend. ;o)

Nancy Jardine said...

I'm quite a newbie to Kindle, and I have to say I hate the idea of print books no longer being available, but the whole deal of the carbon footprint, and all that, really should push the digital releases forward. Although saddened, in some ways, by your blog article, it is a great read.

Mimi Barbour said...

Catherine, I was at a meeting a few nights ago with some local authors and an older fellow said something that stopped me dead in my tracks. He made a huge amount of sense. He said that the big bookstores swooped in years ago and totally demolished many of the small mom and pop places. Some were able to survive and he suspects now that those smaller businesses will reap their rewards. There'll still be a lot of us folks who'll be wanting to go into a bookstore and enjoy the atmosphere and find a book to hold in their hands. I sure hope he's right!!

Joanne Stewart said...

Excellent post, Catherine. I have to admit since I got my iPad (has a Kindle app), I don't read too many print books anymore. In fact, I haven't picked one up in well over 6 months. I think I'd hate to see it go, much the same way I hated seeing records go, but I honestly don't really miss print books. Now that I'm older, the fonts are smaller and I'm going blind trying to read them. On my iPad, I can just make the font larger.

Beth Trissel said...

Like Jill, I was thinking about Star Trek too and Captain Kirk with his rare treasured book. Maybe used bookstores will fare well.

Catherine Bybee said...

Hi Nancy, thanks for stopping by.

Mimi: I'd love it if the small bookstores came back into play. It sure would be a heck of a lot easier to find what you're looking for.

Joanne: I picked up a ton of paperbacks at the RT Convention, but beyond that I read everything on my Nook... So I hear ya.

Beth: Again, I'd sure like to see used and small bookstored pop up.

Lynne Marshall said...

I just got home from the Borders five minutes from my house. I am saddened it won't be there after July 31st, and I bought books there frequently. today there was a line of no less than 150 people, one of the clerks said, if all these people had come in before, maybe this wouldn't happen. I don't agree - we are moving into a digital world, and transition stinks! I own a Kindle and read from it, but I have far more paperbacks. If i like a book I've read on Kindle, I don't feel like I really own it until I have it in myhands, so I buy the print copy. That equals twice the sales.
Amazon is a good thing and a bad thing. It's all about moving into the future, and I'm not sure "I want to go to there" (to quote Liz Lemon from 30th Rock)

M.Flagg said...

I agree that electronic text books are the way of the future for almost every subject. What this will do, however, is put those huge, money-hungry book companies (along with thousands of workers) out of business. Text books are great on the iPad. IPad technology will far surpass the e-reader we now see.
I love holding a book. I like to turn back, re-read a good scene now and then. And I agree with Celia. POD will be the big winner here because print will be around for quite a while.
As for the musician's gold record, well, that particular 'reward' is simply a symbol. The manuscript is still paper, written mostly by hand, by a person with a unique vision of sound. But holding a book, like holding a musical work or physically painting a picture - these aspects of human creation translate differently in the digital world.
I hate to see any bookstore close. Yet a recent trip to B&N had my head spinning. Cramped stock and multisensory over-stimulation has become the norm. Nothing beats the charm of a small bookstore, along with the serenity of searching the shelves. It's priceless. Something the next generation will probably perceive as quaint. E-readers are great as long as you have a place to plug in and re-charge. It all comes down to readers choice. Holding a book in hand, signing it for someone is, by far, a total thrill.
There's a place for both and will be for a long, long time. Besides, with technology changing so fast, 'the book' has a certain stability factor even a little child finds comforting.
Great post, Catherine!

Sandra Koehler said...

Actually I won't miss printed books...I think the e-reader is compact and can hold so many books in one place without taking up the space that books require. (And I'm saying this with hundreds of paperbacks and hardcovers I still have to read!) But, I had a Borders e-reader...since Kindles and Nooks and KOBO's, Libre's, etc. aren't compatible with one another (a problem they need to fix), now what do I do?
Alison Chambers

GT said...

I was reading a book called "How reading changed my life" written in 98 and the author talked about how computers were revolutionizing the "reading world" with downloadable books. She said something that i loved and totally identified with: reading books in a computer offered information but not companionship.
I have and always will love books in printed form.