Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Battle Between Print and Digital

One decade ago the first modern e-reader came onto the market and revolutionized the way we read books. In early 2004 the Sony Librie became the first e-reader with a e-ink screen making it easier to read digital books. E-reading devices became popular and blossomed into a new market and soon e-books began popping up everywhere. Digital formats of novels are considerably cheaper than their print counterparts because of the low costs of distributing them. A publisher can release and ship an e-book for no cost or less than a penny a copy, making them a popular choice among consumers. The digital advancements of the book industry came with benefits but for the tradition lovers and authors some fear as to what the future of the industry would be. 

Aspiring authors dream of seeing their creation lining the shelves of bookstores, as a physical tangible object–to feel the weight of the book in their hands and turn the pages of their own words for the first time. For those aspiring authors and hundreds of writers out there, the digital world has made it easier to be published. Publishing companies are not taking as big of a risk picking up a previously unknown author and releasing an e-book. It's not even taking into account the self-publishing authors who no longer have to pay for storage and printing costs with print-on-demand formats. The reality is yes, its easier to be published but the dream of holding that book for the first time has become considerably harder to achieve. 

Despite the fact that print is clearly at a disadvantage when compared to digital from a financial standpoint and a physical one-if you've ever tried to move you'll get this one-it continues to win over readers year after year. The sale of e-books stopped increasing exponentially each year as of 2012 and is leveling off with only fifteen per cent of the market according to a BookNet Canada study. Even more surprising is the digital native generation of 18-24 year old's prefer print novels to digital ones. In fact, the generation most likely to appreciate e-readers is the baby boomers because of benefits of increasing the font size and the contrast making it easier to read for those with weaker eyes. Print is still dominating the book market ten years later but at the same time e-readers are adopted by a much broader range of people. Lots of people have some form of an e-reader device in their homes and purchase both print and digital books. 

Print books will always have a special place in the hearts of many. Tangible books are to be collected and the crease in the spine of a well worn book is a trophy and a memory. They might not be the most economic option but for now it's not time to give up on them. Hopefully the trends continue into the future and print and digital can learn to play nice and co-exists with each other, but for this tradition lover, lets hope print keeps its place for the foreseeable future. 

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