Musings on E-Books

Interesting news from the London Book fair here, predicting that e-books will account for 30% of all books read in five years.

I would like to remain open-minded about e-books. After all, if they take off in the way everyone’s predicting, that’s good news for me. I believe that currently e-books account for about 5% of the proportion of books read. I think it’s entirely feasible that 30% figure could come about in five years.

On the other hand, I don’t think we ever really know what’s going to happen in the future. I happened to catch the film “Back to the Future 2” on one of the movie channels on TV over the weekend. It’s amusing now to watch this 1985 vision of the world of 2015, which is after all only five years away. We don’t have the hover boards, the flying cars, the pizza rehydrator or many of the other things that the characters in the film experience. On the other hand, nobody in the film has a mobile phone. In 1985, when mobile phones were a somewhat bizarre new invention, nobody could imagine how they would completely take over the world.

I am quite happy to embrace the e-book phenomenon, and accept the fact that like it or not, it’s here to stay. I have even been looking at e-readers. But I don’t think they will replace paper books, and I believe the future in publishing is to accommodate both e-books and paper books.

After all, as the Australian academic points out, you can’t read e-books in the bath.

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3 comments so far

  1. Rosie Quigley on

    I have also heard on the news, that the new I-pods are now being made with e-book features. This will put reading e-books at everybody’s figertips,(literally) and I think, will result in this type of capability taking off in a big way. All good for you.

  2. C Scott Morris on

    There is a trend in Japan right now amongst the youth where they write, download and read books entirely on their smart phones.
    Not novels. iBooks. Of less than 10,000 words.
    This is what concerns me. Not the shift to an electronic format, but the shortening length. Some ePubs want you to write in a way that is easy to read on small screens. More white space, less text.
    The question is not ‘what changes will technology make?’ but ‘what changes will a shortened attention span bring about?’

  3. Sonya on

    Not every story needs to be 75,000 words. I’ve read plenty of traditionally published full length novels that would have benefited from cutting the padding that was added to get it to that magic word count. One of the things I like about the epubs is that they’ll publish stories of various lengths. I’ve read conjecture that this will lead to the return of serialized stories and I think we can already see plenty of evidence of that. Anyway, count me as a fan of the digital revolution.

    I have to add – every article I’ve read about this mentions that you can’t read an ebook in the bath. What is the deal with this fetish of reading in the bathtub? Bathtubs are hard and uncomfortable, the water starts getting cold right away. Not fun, y’all, not fun! 😉


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