Ebooks vs Print: Experiences, not Nostalgia


This is a blog posting about another blog posting, about an article that was written about a Nielsen Bookscan Report, which featured in an article on Bookseller. Confused? Good. Now read on.

Ebooks have been the subject of interest for many a blog this past year. The Sony E-Reader has been with us for what, two years? The Kindle and the iPad have landed a lot more recently (British market versions). Most of us with smartphones have access to either apple bookstore or the Kindle app now. I think its safe to say that no amount of moaning will change the fact that ebooks are here to stay.

There is a hyperlink below to the original blog by Black Plastic Glasses, so after you’ve finished here, you may wish to go ahead and read the original blog that got me writing this one. The whole argument is basically around whether Ebooks are cutting into print book sales margins. The answer is a bit of a ‘yes and no’ one. To sum up, Evan Schnittman points out that people who have bought an e-reading device have already made the mental decision as a consumer to henceforth buy only ebook versions of the books they want to read. He illustrates with two examples of how he has been given free print copies of of two books and instead of reading them, he has gone and bought the ebook versions, simply because that is his preferred mode of consumption. If its not in ebook format, Schnittman suggests that a book becomes invisible to the e-book person. Its a compelling argument and one that probably resonates with a lot of ebook-reader-types (they have to justify the expense of their initial purchase of a device don’t they? Although, that probably isn’t the reason they have in mind), but then that is a very subjective decision and may not be the one that everyone makes.

Take me for example. I’ve come to enjoy the convenience of having a book to read on my phone when I’m somewhere far from my bookshelf at home, e.g. waiting in the car with my son, sitting in a hospital waiting room, etc, but still prefer the more tactile experience of sitting comfortably in an armchair with a print book. That is what it boils down to. Its not about one format having more to offer than the other, but rather the experience that you are chasing. I’d compare reading an ebook to watching a movie on television, rather than a book’s more cinema-like big event feel. With ebooks, you read whenever you can get a chance, a gap-filler. With a print book, you make time for it. You eliminate, to the best of your ability, any possible interruptions. You’ve been to the loo and you’ve even made sure you have all your mid-read snacks ready and near to hand (as opposed to going to the loo or making a cup of tea mid-read). Experience, not nostalgia.

Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic about a world where ebooks and print books can co-exist comfortably. But I can’t help but feel that more and more people will be tempted into buying an ebook device, especially as they become more value-for money and improve on the overall experience of reading a book. Sadly, it is the way of progress.

In other news, I sent off the Changeling King to the Times Chicken House Children’s Writing Competition. I would greatly appreciate your prayers to help me win.

Ebooks Don’t Cannibalize Print, People Do « Black Plastic Glasses

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