Saturday, July 16, 2011

What Is The Future Of Printed Books

In light of the advantages of ebooks over printed books, particularly cost, do printed books have a future?

Let me answer that with another question. How many blacksmiths are active today?

The answer to the second question is "thousands". The Artists Blacksmith Association of North America has over 4,000 members and there are thousands of more blacksmiths who aren't affiliated with ABANA. Buggy whip makers are also thriving, and there are a lot of wheelwrights working as well. In fact it's hard to think of an obsolete trade or craft which isn't still being practiced today.

I submit the same thing is going to happen to publishers of print books. The economic advantages of ebooks my limit them to niche markets, but they're going to be healthy niches. Some people think enough of print books that they're willing to pay 5 or 10 times the price of ebooks for a printed-on-paper copy.

In fact that's what has happened to traditionally bound books, made by hand with the cords running across the back under the leather binding. They're still available, although much more costly than regular printed books.

We're not going to lose printed books because of ebooks, but because of price and other advantages ebooks will dominate the market.

No comments: