[EDITED] The Evolution of E-readers: what does this mean for the book industry?

Technology and its rapid development never cease to amaze me on a day-to-day basis. It is constantly evolving, reshaping our ways of livelihood. Thanks to technology, we’re always on a move, we’re always in touch with the rest of the world – needless to say, our world has become a buzzing ball of endless connectivity (best way I could exemplify the situation).

First there was the mobile phone, then the laptop, then the smart phone, then the E-reader. 30 years ago, we would’ve never imagined the availability of hefty books in the form of portable tablets. But that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s society. Tablets like the iPad and Kindle have made it possible for readers to purchase books anytime, anywhere they want.

But with the growth of E-readers, does this mean our love for physical books will perish in the process? Like the Encyclopedia and the diminishment of its practicality in a world of internet-savvy technophiles, will our old novels be left on the bookshelves at the back of our houses, abandoned and forgotten? How will publishers run a profitable business when consumers are increasingly turning to E-readers instead?

John Naughton writes about his discovery of the Economist in the form of an iPad app in a 2010 article on The Guardian;

So your columnist now has an unexpected problem: every Friday, the postman delivers the print edition of the Economist. But the envelopes now sit unopened, gathering dust on the hall table. The upside is that I can share them with friends or donate them to a school, which is more than I can do with my walled-in digital edition, but that’s another can of worms.

I think we can all relate to this experience. How many of our Sydney Morning Herald subscriptions end up either on a pile of other newspapers in our houses or getting thrown out into our recycling bins? E-readers have changed our very concept of ‘books’. This digital availability has allowed us to download articles, journals, particular chapters and even entire novels under a singular platform.

The book industry needs to pick their game up!

When one is presently dealt with the question as to what a ‘book’ is, it is unlikely that we’d immediately conceptualize ‘hard-cover books’. Instead, our thoughts will  most likely wander to an array of thoughts consisting of kindles, iPads, smart-phones and laptops. Books are evermore mobile, accessible and cheaper with the advent of E-readers.

This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the book industry is threatened. Like the encyclopedia, this only means the book industry will have to adjust to the age of digitalization. In order to thrive in this era, the book industry will have to continue creating new ways of making its materials available through new platforms.

As Naughton says;

There will always be “books”. The question now is: will there always be publishers?


This entry was published on May 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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