E-Readers – ARTS2090 – Blog – Justin O’Keefe

A creative illustration showing what authors and publishers believe to be the future of books

E-readers and tablet devices are dramatically changing the way we read books. Is there a future in printed books? I don’t think so. As blunt as I made that prediction sound, the idea of a world where books are rare commodities, much like record vinyls (expensive collector items) saddens me.

Only recently I used my mum’s Sony e-reader in my first attempt at readin an e-book: Anthony Horowitz’s take on Sherlock Holmes, The House of Silk. Although I was thoroughly enjoying the plot and Horowitz’s writing style, I felt as if the the e-reader somewhat prevented me from becoming completely immersed in the ‘book’. I missed turning the pages. I missed the feel of the book. I missed being able to admire the artwork of the front cover. All these little details led me to completely fogetting about the book entirely, having only read half of it. I haven’t purchased an e-book since.

For me, the cost, mobility and effortless nature of the e-reader doesn’t quiet outweigh the feel and the satisfaction of complete ownership of a  physical, traditional (I still find it odd refering to printed books as a traditional media) book.

Nonetheless, no-one can deny that the tablets and e-readers will revolutionise the publishing industry and deliver a breath of fresh air to the world of books, which has been somewhat stagnant in contrast to the world of exponential technological development in which we live and have grown accustom to.

Print publishers now need to completely re-think their approach to books. As Sachin Kamdar [http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/01/why-publishers-are-about-to-go-data-crazy017.html] claims, “advances in media consumption technology for readers have been rapid, [and] the publisher side of web technology hasn’t kept up with the pace. Publishers have been running a marathon in a pair of shoes that are four sizes too small.”

If traditional publishers fail to adapt to the new world of e-books, they will die at the hands of companies like Amazon which have already blantanly launched their attack on the industy.   “Amazon could probably afford to lose $20 million/year in their publishing arm just to put the other publishers out of business. I think that’s what they’re trying to do–throw money around in an industry that doesn’t have any, until Amazon becomes not only the only place where you buy books, but the only place that publishes books, too.” [Sarah Lacy – http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/17/confessions-of-a-publisher-were-in-amazons-sights-and-theyre-going-to-kill-us/]


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