Man, I hate to say this, I really do, but I think the book industry as we know it is finished. It will die a painful death and the publication of actual bound books with pages and pretty covers will be reserved for only the most highly regarded and/or bestselling authors. These books will probably be quite expensive, both to produce and to buy.
This is terrible to consider, especially for people like me who purchase and covet hardcover books. The unfortunate thing is that people like me are becoming more and more of a minority. We bookish types are fading into the sunset, so to speak. The publishing industry is still churning out books, but at higher costs to consumers due to diminishing returns. Mom and Pop bookstores are gone because they couldn’t keep their costs down and compete with the huge Barnes & Noble and Borders conglomerates.
Even book reviewers are becoming extinct (and it’s not the fault of book bloggers, dammit)! This was bound to happen — less people reading equals less of a demand for professional book reviews. Newspapers are in enough trouble as it is; readership is down in all areas and many of them are fighting just to stay afloat. Some of them have already gone bankrupt.
Yep, the book times they are a-changin’and they are a-changin’ faster than you think. The newest reason that they’re changing at a rapidly accelerating rate can be summed up in one word: Kindle.
It is finally happening. The book is being replaced by a handheld reading device. You may scoff at this, but I swear it’s true. I received my Kindle a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t looked back since. This little thing is astonishingly convenient and easy to use. You can purchase books for 1/3 of the price you pay at the bookstore. You can zip through a book much faster using a Kindle because there are no pages to turn and no book rearranging awkwardness of any kind. The screen is non-glare and you can enlarge the font to make it more readable. You can bookmark any page and add pages that interest you to a clipboard for later perusal. You can subscribe to magazines, newspapers, blog feeds. (Hmmm, why was mine left out? I’m going to have to discuss this with Jeff Bezos) ( :
Kindle has an “Experimental” section which allows you to search the web. I tried looking up my blog and found it immediately. The pictures display in black and white, and the comments section works. If complete word processing capabilities were added to the Kindle, the sky would be the limit. Kindle could take over the world! Once the glitches are worked out, it could outsell all other handheld computer devices and really give Bill Gates and Steve Jobs a run for their money. Apple is working on a new, improved Kindle clone right now. It’s called the “iBook.” I’m not sure what Microsoft is doing.
This is scary stuff because the implications are quite far reaching. First of all, if this takes off like I think it will, it will basically destroy the current publishing industry (but it will save a lot of trees)! Most publishers will have to learn to accommodate the new market by publishing almost exclusively in electronic format. They will have to lower their prices as well.
Bookstores had better get on the bandwagon or they may end up closing forever. Why drive to Barnes & Noble or purchase a novel on the B&N website when you can get into the Amazon bookstore via your Kindle, click a couple of buttons, download a brand new book and start reading it instantly? And for a fraction of the price? Right now, Amazon pretty much has the monopoly on this form of electronic bookselling. I’ve purchased and downloaded three books so far, and there are a couple more I’m just itching to buy. For someone like me, being able to achieve this kind of instant book gratification is almost too much to bear! I’m going to have to learn how to resist temptation and continute interlibrary loaning books or I’ll soon become a pauper.
One regret I have is that if I’m using the Kindle, I’ll no longer be able to show off the impressive books that I’m reading. (Thanks, Care, for reminding me of this). Nobody will be able to tell that I’m really smart and cool because I’m reading The Decameron on my Kindle (not that I would ever be reading The Decameron on anything, but that’s beside the point). For all they know, I could be using my Kindle to drool over a website catering to adult diaper babies or to read the latest Erica Jong ~shudder~ novel. Maybe I’ll have to buy a copy of The Decameron and just tote it around with me for affect. I can occassionally pretend to read it with furrowed brow and heavy sighs so that everyone can see how incredibly cerebral I am.
My Kindle is not really “my kindle.” It was purchased for me to use at work. I’m using it at work, and I’m also using it at home. I’m using it everywhere. I’ve even purchased this extra small laptop sleeve to keep it in so that my sweet widdle Kindle windle can stay safe and warm:
I bought the sleeve with my own funds, and look, it’s chartreuse! This Kindle must mean a lot to me because I felt compelled to choose an accessory for it, and it had to be in my signature color. I don’t even do anything close to this for my pets. Good Lord!