Whenever I tell people I print books I always get a concerned look as if I just told them that I make 8-track tapes. They always ask if print is dead, to which I ask, “do you read books?” Depending on the company you keep, you may get a variety of answers. However, I found that a majority of book readers continue to read traditional paperback books.
Is Book Printing Dead?
Since 2008, we have continuously heard that book printing will be dead by 2015. With the introduction of eReaders, I thought that this was the beginning of the end for the printed book. I am happy to say that I was absolutely wrong. Printed books took a dive initially in 2008 and continued to do so until 2011, but have been trending upward since. Earlier in September, the New York Times wrote an article about publishers increasing their investment into their print infrastructure and distribution.
It’s All About Convenience
So the book-pocalypse never came. What now? I would argue that eReaders are here to stay, but they are more of a complement to print rather then its executioner, at least for now. I work with many publishers and always ask if they produce ebooks with their printed book titles. With the new hybrid print/ebook readers, there are new opportunities for publishers to sell their books and keep readers coming back.
We are quickly realizing that people’s lives are busy and convenience is beating out traditional methods everywhere. We are seeing this with television providers as they struggle against server-based alternatives such as Netflix and Shomi. While printed books are different than digital media, convenience has the same tone.
While working with educational publishers, I have been seeing a lot of them jump on board in complimenting their ebooks with cards or printed codes inside the books, allowing purchasers to get the ebook version for free. Of course, trade publishers cannot shrink wrap every book to stop people from stealing the code; Barnes & Noble attempted this business venture for trade ebooks, but it failed miserably.
The Latest Trends…
There are new companies and ventures that have watched as some of the earlier investors have failed to see what people want. For example, BitLit has an app called Shelfie which allows its users to get their purchased ebook for free or at a significantly discounted price. All users have to do is print their name in capital letters on the copyright page and take a picture of both the cover and copyright page. Once you’ve verified your purchase of a printed book, the company will email you a link to the ebook.
We are still in the early stages of ebook distribution, but the future looks bright for print and ebooks alike. Both publishers and readers have been burned by ebook expenses that have been encumbered upon us. A hybrid option that includes both ebooks and print books might be a solution.
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