How E-books Have Impacted Traditional Publishing

Melissa Rudy asked:

In today’s high-tech world, virtually anything can be nudged into the 21st century with a quick prefix—e-mails, e-businesses, e-commerce and, of course, e-books. As its name implies, an e-book is a title that’s available in electronic format, allowing the reader to peruse its contents on a computer screen or portable device.

Generating nearly $32 million* in revenue in the United States in 2007 and billions more in countries around the world, downloadable e-books are encouraging some tech-savvy readers to forgo paperbacks for laptops. While some fear a negative impact on traditional publishing, it’s unlikely that the demand for e-books will eclipse the printed word anytime soon, with the total trade book market generating $25 billion in 2007, as cited by the Association of American Publishers**.

It’s easy to see the initial appeal of e-books. As the Internet becomes a more prominent fixture in modern-day media, busy folks are becoming more reliant on their computers, obtaining their news, communications, and recreation from online sources. For many, reading books on-screen seems a natural progression. Space efficiency is another potential bonus: instead of piling up on bookcase shelves, several full-length publications can be stored on a pocket-sized Flash drive.

For some avid readers however, a computer screen simply can’t compete with a traditional hand-held book. They feel that e-books lack the tactile and sensory qualities of the printed version, and that booting up a computer and digesting digital words just can’t compare to snuggling up in bed and flipping through the pages. Plus, a traditional book offers more portability over electronic versions: you’d be hard-pressed to stick a laptop in your bag when heading out for a day of reading and relaxing at the beach.

Regardless of the benefits of e-books, it’s unlikely that paper books are in any danger of being replaced for good. Although the industry will surely continue to shift in the face of electronic advancements, printed publications have the advantage of familiarity: readers are accustomed to paging through them, marking their place, sharing and swapping titles with friends and family, and shelving them when the tale is done. Another benefit of traditional books is their collectability. Coffee table books will continue to grace homes in the years to come, and e-books can’t provide the visual satisfaction that comes with stepping back and surveying a bookcase full of titles you’ve enjoyed.

While e-books might offer an appealing value, there are budget-friendly alternatives to the prices charged by traditional and used bookstores. At NovelAction.com, for example, readers can trade in books they’ve already read in exchange for new titles. With a robust inventory, high standards of quality, and quick shipments, this online book trading service is an easy and affordable way to update your home library, try out new authors and genres, and find out-of-print titles. The site also offers an online community, where users can interact with other readers to share reviews of books and authors.

*Source: http://www.idpf.org/doc_library/industrystats.htm

**Source: http://www.publishers.org/main/IndustryStats/indStats_02.htm

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