Where Have All the Books Gone?


file0001352216339How many of you out there own a Kindle or a Nook? Now how many of you still buy print? How many of you still peruse the shelves of a brick and mortar bookstore or the stacks of a library?

file000473781623I still love tangible books. I love dog-earing pages for future reference and I love sliding my bookmark in between the pages to save my place. I love being able to lend one to my sister when the read is worthwhile. And I love sitting with my daughter when she reads one with colorful illustrations that help narrate the story.

A few days ago Barnes and Noble announced that they plan to reduce the number of stores by twenty every year for the next decade. Their revenue over the holiday season was down over the last year and, as you may already know, print book sales everywhere have been down. That struck as both sad and disturbing. Even though they still made a ridiculous amount of money, I wondered if the largest brick and mortar book chain could possibly be slowly slipping away.

An author I follow said that she wasn’t surprised by B&N’s losses. When I told her that I still buy print, she revealed that she only buys digital and has given up print altogether. The books she does own are collecting dust on her shelves. I was surprised at her admission, but I must admit that my last six book purchases have been digital. I really feel like a hypocrite declaring that, but in my defense, those books were only offered as ebooks.

I live in a small community and B&N is the only game in town as far as print books ever since Borders gave up andborders_Palo_alto rolled out. Well, that’s not exactly true. We do have a large used bookstore. Or there’s always Target or Walmart, where the selection is laughable unless if you’re looking for the latest Snooki release. So, no, there isn’t much of an option around here if B&N rolled out too.

Back to the questions in the first paragraph: I do own both a Nook and a Kindle. I have the original Nook (black-and-white, non-touch screen) which I haven’t used since I got the Kindle Fire (color, touch screen, apps). I still buy print. I enjoy going into B&N soaking in all the new releases. The clearance section is my favorite, where I’ve sometimes been introduced to authors I’ve never read before. And that oh-so-wonderful library is a great place to take my kids to help meld their relationship with reading and books.

To be honest, I feel scared that real books will someday disappear. That people will forget how a book feels. How it smells. How is feels to browse the stacks. I’m sure that won’t be happening tomorrow but if people are already giving up on them, when will their existence end? I’m certain record companies never expected the 8-track, cassette and now the CD to slowly fade away. I’m sure Kodak never expected film processing would cease to exist. And I’m pretty sure Newsweek never imagined the time would come that they would no longer offer their product in print form.

The future is unpredictable. Nothing is promised. Let’s just hope books won’t become extinct in our lifetime.

So, what say you? Have you completely converted to ebooks? Or are you still in love with those seams, spines and covers?

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Categories: Uncategorized, ~Random Madness~ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “Where Have All the Books Gone?

  1. Hi Melissa. The other day, I was talking to a friend about this very topic.
    I’m a die-hard paperback girl BUT I have Kindle (on my i-Pad).
    No amount of modern technology can replace the aesthetic experience provided by holding a book in your hand… the texture of paper… the ‘smell’ of a new book….
    However, I’ve embraced the e-book because I do believe that change is inevitable, it’s a part of growth…
    My final thoughts? I firmly believe that the library is one of the last bastions of civilisation…!

  2. I have a Kindle, but rarely buy books for it. I still buy paperbacks and hardbacks. I buy half on Amazon and half from actual places.

  3. I enjoy reading your posts. You pose some good questions or thoughts to consider. I prefer the touch and smell of the printed book. As a child, I loved going to the school library and perusing the shelves, picking out books to read and going in order from A-Z. I read different things online, but I have to admit: reading online does not give me a thrill like reading print.

    If I am doing research, I like to print the article off to read it. I guess I am old school. I know everything is going digital and I do not own a Kindle or Nook. But I am beginning to see the value in them and also in tablets.

    I will shed a tear for the closing of B& N, but as long as Amazon will still ship me a print book, I think I can survive the heartbreak.

  4. Thanks for reading and the compliment.

    I enjoy strolling the bookshelves so I would truly be sad if B&N completely goes away. I’m just hoping that our local one won’t be one of the ones that they’re considering closing.

  5. For a long time I held the line, vowing I’d never switch to digital books or own an e-reader. I loved the feel of a book in my hand, the satisfaction of turning the pages. But when I got my smartphone with a Kindle app pre-installed, I started by first downloading a few free books. Then I started buying digital books. Because of the convenience of having my library with me, I was reading more. So I bought more. At this point, I can’t remember the last time I purchased a physical book, though I do still borrow physical books from the library.

    Like you, I hope that physical books don’t disappear anytime soon. However, I went through a similar experience with CDs and now I only purchase digital music.

    • That’s so funny that you bring up CDs. My husband and I had a huge cassette collection and when CDs came onto the scene, he and I vowed we would never give them up. Same for VHS tapes when DVDs came out. Eventually, we had to go the way of CDs because places stopped selling cassettes. About eight months ago during a “spring” cleaning, I decided I would no longer buy CDs because digital downloads were less clutter. We have hundreds of them and even though they’re in CD cases<—–yes, cases with an s, I see them as an eyesore taking up too much space.

      I’m sure at some point DVDs will fall to the wayside too. I’ve noticed that when a movie becomes available on DVD, they also offer it as a digital download as well.

  6. I’m sorry – I’m guilty! Ever since I purchased my first iPad almost three years ago, I’ve been an eBook convert. I’ve only purchased two print books since then because that was the only format available. (And they were blogger buddies, so I had to support my friends.)
    It’s not just books though. I suspect the next generation won’t know what a CD is and soon, a DVD. It will be all about the downloads.

  7. scribblesfromjenn

    Each time I get a book on my Kindle, I’m reminded how much I love it. But the tactile person in me can’t give up hard copies… yet. In my neck of the woods, you can only buy books at Target — ugh!

  8. I read more and more digitally too. I started using the Kindle for my blog buddies’ books, but it gets easier and easier to do it. I do still buy print books – but not as often. I buy a lot of books for presents for others. It’s almost impossible to imagine no book stores – that would indeed be a sad day!

  9. As much as I love the solid book, I’ve pretty much completely converted to ebooks. It’s so conventient and they are so easy to read (I just have to remember to charge the battery)

  10. Elise Fallson

    Hi Melissa. I don’t own an ereader yet, but I’m going to be forced to purchase one because many of my blogging friends have ebooks and I want to support them and read their work. I’ve tried the kindle version for PC and it’s just horrible trying to read an entire book off the computer monitor. I don’t think books will disappear entirely. However, I think books will become something of a status symbol, they will always be more expensive than the downloadable version. I think ereaders will be great for students for example, who will no longer have to carry heavy books to class, but for leisure reading, there is nothing that parallels physical print. I too love flipping the pages, using bookmarks, writing comments in the margins and highlighting my favorite passages in a book. That experience cannot be duplicated with an ereader. So while downloads and ereaders will become the next step in the evolution of reading, I don’t think books will cease to exist, they will simply take on a different status.

    • Elise, a lot of my blogging and Twitter friends have ebooks as well so a lot of my recent purchases have been steering towards that direction. I guess if people want to keep up with indie and self-pubbed authors, they won’t have a choice but to have an ereader or an ereader app.

  11. I don’t have a Kindle BUT I do have it installed on my laptop. I don’t like using it though. There’s something about the feel of books, the change to hold them, bend them, flip through them… yep, cuddle with them, which just can’t be done with a Kindle or laptop. I don’t think they’ll cease to exist, but times change and downloading a quick read does have it’s advantages.

  12. Quanie Mitchell

    Hi Melissa, I actually still buy both; most of the printed books I get come from Amazon.com but I do have a Kindle Fire. I don’t think books will go out of print, but it’s likely that a lot of companies may switch to print on demand to save money.

  13. Quanie, that’s an interesting point that you’ve brought up and one that I hadn’t even thought of.

  14. I’m not into electrical reading. I love printed books best!

  15. Great post!

    I have mixed feelings. I don’t want to see an end to print books, but I love my e-reader. It’s so convenient and it takes up way less space. Believe it or not, I resisted getting one for a long time. I was one of those people who never thought I’d want to give up the feel of a book in my hand.

    Well…I’m eating crow. 😛

    I still buy an occasional hardback if no e-version is offered or if a used PB is priced way less than the ebook cost, but I’m pretty sold on my Kindle.

  16. It’s very disturbing to think books could someday become extinct. I, too own a Kindle Fire and said I’d never turn my back on buying print. Unfortunately I haven’t bought print in a while. That’s sad.

    My worst fear is unintentionally happening. I’m being converted by my eReader when I swore I wouldn’t. Though I do still love the smell and feel of a hard cover book. Let’s hope they never become extinct.

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