Could this be the End of Books?

By John Schlarbaum: Owner, Page 233 Bookstore

The eBook Revolution is upon us!

However, to paraphrase William Shakespeare, “To join, or not to join, that is the question.”

Just as the distribution of music evolved from vinyl to MP3 files, so too has the way we can read and purchase books. The words “Kindle” and “Kobo” – two popular eReaders – are now part of our vocabulary.   The biggest advantage of an eReader is its size and storage capacity. With the dimensions of a paperback, these lightweight technological marvels can hold up to 1500 full-length books.

Author and Page 233 Bookstore owner John Schlarbaum displays a of an ebook version and hard copy of Barry Jones’ Cold Dinner.

Consumers versed in purchasing music from the iTunes Store are now doing the same for the written word. In 2010, reported selling more eBooks than hardcovers or paperbacks. Two reasons for this surge: many eBooks are priced 50% off their paper counterparts and there are no shipping fees for downloading the material to your computer.

The advantages of such a wonderful device seem overwhelming until you take into account the human touch factor.

Recently I read 400 million copies of the “Harry Potter” series have been sold. Books children, teens and adults enjoyed holding and turning the pages of in any solitary place they could find to get lost in the story. These readers did not attend costumed book release parties so they could download the book at midnight!

“I like the feel of a book. The texture, the weight and the smell of the pages,” is what several of my customers have stated about their eReader encounters. “It’s just a more personal experience.”

I find myself in a quandary over eBooks. At Page 233, I still have readers buying copies of their favourite writer’s latest release, while I also have eReader owners ordering older titles that may never be available as an eBook.

Conversely, as an author with an eBook now available, I see the format as another way to promote my mysteries to the masses on a truly global scale. That it’s cost effective and doesn’t require me to store boxes of books in my closets and hallways is also a huge bonus.

Printed books have been around since 1450, while consumer eReaders are about 5 years old. As a book lover and a bookstore owner, I’m betting paper books will be around for some time to come.

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