Aug 30, 2011

Phooey to the End of Books

I don't think so!
Many conversations about the future of books, publishing and reading seem to be gloomy these days. I read blogs, hear radio conversations and even meet authors that think authors will suffer great income loss over:
A. the introduction of ebooks
B. cheap ebooks (99c)
C. competing with tv, movies, internet and gaming for children's attention.

I say phooey to all that. I think the future of books is brighter than it's ever been. Here's how I validate my excitement for this industry:
  1. The introduction of ebooks has enabled MORE people to access fiction in a variety of mediums.
  2. By having a novel available online, you have opened your readership up globally. You don't have to rely on only reaching a national market. If an Australian publisher prints one of my novels, I will still have to try to secure an agent/publisher for each other international market such as the UK or US.
  3. Cheap ebooks have excited readers and tweaked an interest in otherwise cautious customers. This in turn develops a fad of reading, the more you read the more you want to read. 99c will gain initial interest, but readers will evolve to be more aware of their own taste and more discerning towards the quality of fiction they read. I now scrutinize my purchases and do not base my choice on price. I trust other readers to do the same.
  4. Hooray for technological distractions. The iPads, laptops and iPhones might be popular with teens for the games they supply but the wonderful phenomenon I'm noticing is kids that wouldn't usually want to buy books now want to, all because they can download them onto their iPod etc. I had a yr7 media class (12-13yr olds) and introduced them to online books via Amazon. I showed them how you can get Kindle for your iPod. They were all so excited about this and most downloaded the app. A lot of these kids would have scrunched their noses up at me suggesting they borrow a book from a library.
  5. Ebooks are making reading a very popular trend. This in turn makes people want to own books and buy books for their shelves as well as their iPads. It has almost become a fashion statement for our living rooms. Don't believe books are trendy? Department store catalogues are expensive to produce and distribute, this makes space on them prime real estate. As you can imagine, front page is pretty special. In the past. I've only noticed books get a small corner of a page in the middle somewhere. Yesterday I was so surprised and pleased to see a Big W catalogue feature the first TEN pages all for books and that they now sell the Amazon Kindle here in Australia!
So, aren't you excited?!


  1. I totally agree. As much as my posts seem gloomy, I'm working toward posts that will showcase how reading will be popular in the future. I think people won't stop reading. HOW they read will be different though.

  2. Hi Clarissa,
    I haven't seen much gloom on your site, most of your posts are geared towards helping writers with the techniques of writing, editing and publishing :)

  3. And I have another reason books are not dead: kids. It's just not that easy to impulse buy an e-book as it is to impulse buy at the store. My kids do not get on the computer and say, "I have to have that new book for my kindle NOW!" But they do at the store. It doesn't matter what we go to Barnes and Noble to get, we come home with twice that cuz the kids saw a book that they had to have. Impulse buys = profit and where there's profit, there's product.

    Good to meet you. I'm from the campaign :)

  4. I saw a big display of Kindles at the local BigW this morning. They're certainly not hiding them behind the counter in plain brown wrappers.

  5. I saw too that children's and YA books are actually up, in comparison to adult books in Australia. Also cause for rejoicing.

    I just wish this would translate to publishers beating a path to my door!

  6. Charmaine, I believe optimism shapes the world.

    I am with you, friend, lock, stock and barrel.

  7. Laura - good to meet you and great point. I go out for decking oil and manage to bring books home.

    Simon - so exciting and now Woolies has the Kindle too!

    The Book Chook - I know what you mean, if Penguin don't get their act together and get back to me soon, they might miss their opportunity to get all this (just joking Penguin, just joking... I still love you!) *starts worshiping the Publisher's shrine*

    Suze - Cheers to optimism!

  8. Yes, but what about the poor people? If our world ditched all books with pages, how would they ever educate themselves to hopefully become better.

  9. Shelly - I don't think page books will go anywhere anytime soon. I think an increase in interest in books increases the purchase of ALL books including paper-paged ones. Getting swept along with the hype and trend of books at the moment is good for their future :)

  10. I completely agree. I'm an eBook lover who still buys print books, a few a month! Books are more popular than EVER thanks to eBooks. I know for a fact that it has increased my reading ten fold.

    And if you're having an author sign your book, what are you gonna do... whip out your Kindle? NAW. You go BUY THE BOOK!

  11. Indeed! We should be excited! Re Jaws swimming up to attack the apple...original skin. So are you the shark? ;-) And is the apple an analogy for Knowledge or NY? or something else entirely?

  12. I agree! I also think there will always be a market for print books, simply because some people prefer the paper and ink to a screen. As much time as I spend on the computer, it's nice to have something solid to look at at the end of the day!

  13. For some reason, I have great difficulty reading from a screen. Actually, I hate it, and I will never give up "paper" books. And as far as kids - well, for the little ones at least, a screen simply does not have the same effect as holding and looking at a big colorful book and turning the pages. I don't think that will ever change.

  14. I'll be excited when I sign my first book deal.

  15. People will never stop reading.

    Fellow campaigner here. I write just about everything - from PBs on up to adults. Looking forward to getting better acquainted!

  16. Thanks for this, Charmaine. Very uplifting in lieu of all the negativity in the publishing world right now.

  17. MJones - good point about author signings.

    L.A Spedwing - RE: Jaws ... um, yeah, it's a metaphor, I'm that clever *winks*

    Bel - Absolutely!

    Li - I have trouble reading long text on a lit screen too, but I do like my Kindle because it's on a soft grey screen and I can make the text bigger at night when my eyes are struggling. I do still love paper too though.

    Chris - LOL yes a contract would make all of us overlook any negativity :)

    Nicole - Welcome :)

    Alyssa - Thanks, I think we all love writing enough not to let any negative news put us off the craft.

  18. Hey, Charmaine! Thanks for commenting on my blog and for becoming a Follower! It's great to meet you!

    I really appreciate your positive point-of-view on e-publishing! You're right: The main thing is that ebooks lead people to read who otherwise might not (like teens, like you said) - and then maybe they'll end up wanting to use the library again in the future. Great insight and thoughts!

    I have bookmarked your blog and will be back soon!

    Thanks again!

  19. What a fascinating blog site. Hello, just a fellow campaigner stopping by your site. Looking forward to getting to know you. Am in the same group.


  20. Lauren - I think it's amazing how libraries are adapting to kids' needs now. You can borrow ebooks, mp3 players pre-loaded with audiobooks, access the internet and, yes... borrow books! :)

    Patricia - Thanks for visiting!

  21. I don't think books are going anywhere. Thing will change, and certain career paths will become redundant (which is unfortunate for those people currently on those paths) but books themselves and stories will be around for a while yet.


  22. Charmaine, I couldn't agree with you more! The eBook revolution further democratizes books and reading so more people can afford to buy literature and authors can become more experimental and less formulaic.
    BTW, I just awarded you an Appreciated Follower Award so stop on by when you can to say hi and pick up the logo should you want to pay it forward.
    Oh, and thanks checking out A Girl's Best Friend!

  23. Hi! It is so good to visit your blog! I think change is good. People will still be reading and that's what matters. Convenience is big int he world today so why not embrace it and enjoy?

  24. Yep, totally agree! It's a great time to be a writer.
    One point though, I've heard that if you publish in Australia it's hard to sell to the UK because they like to export to Australia as part of the deal (if that makes sense).

  25. Hi! I love this post! I have a Kindle, and I absolutely love it, but nothing will ever take the place of "real" books. It's just a lot easier to commute and holiday with a Kindle.

    Also, I'm in your Aussie/Kiwi Campaign group. Nice to meet you!

  26. Hi Charmaine, I agree with all your points. I wrote an article addressing the same topic: The End of Books

  27. Hi there! You make some interesting points here. I don't quite share your enthusiasm though, because I simply dislike the lack of "quality control" that traditional publishing provides.

    I'm not saying that people shouldn't write whatever they write, but I do think that the public deserves the very, very best we can all offer as writers. I have the utmost respect for self-published authors who have hired editors, hired cover-designers, and made sure their book is amazing before they go to press with it. But self-e-pubbing has made it too easy for impatient writers to throw their stuff out there when it's still too "raw." I like knowing that the books I buy from publishing houses I know are going to deliver a certain measure of quality that is absent in many, but not all, self-pubbed ebooks.