Are printed books' days numbered?


In his 1951 short story The Fun They Had, Isaac Asimov has a boy who finds something really weird in the attic – a printed book. In this future, all reading was done on screens.
When e-books like the Nook and Kindle came out, there were always women sitting outside the building I worked in, on break on a nice spring day reading their Nooks and Kindles. It looked like the future to me, Asimov's story come true. I prefer printed books, but thought that it was because I'm old, and I was thirty before I read anything but TV and movie credits on a screen.
And then I started writing books. My youngest daughter Patty is going to school at Cincinnati University (as a proud dad I have to add that she's Phi Beta Kappa and working full time! I'm not just proud, I'm in awe of her) and when she came home on break and I handed her a hardbound copy of Nobots she said “My dad wrote a book! And it's a REAL book!”
So somehow, even young people like Patty value printed books over e-books.
My audience is mostly nerds, since few non-nerds know of me or my writing, so I figured that the free e-book would far surpass sales of the printed books. Instead, few people are downloading the e-books. More download the PDFs, and more people buy the printed books than PDFs and ebooks combined.
Most people just read the HTML online, maybe that's a testament to my m4d sk1llz at HTML (yeah, right).
Five years ago I was convinced ink was on the way out, but there's a book that was printed long before the first computer was ever turned on that says “the news of my death has been greatly exaggerated”.
March 20, 2015

 

 


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