A reader (thanks, Cindy!) sent this observation:
Woe is me! This was on the front page of Houston paper - "E-book sales pass hardcovers on Amazon. Some think paper variety may go way of dead trees."
As I sit and share books with my granddaughter daily, hoping she will cultivate a love for the written word, stories like this break my heart. I know we live in age of technology and that her world looks very different from mine, but there is still room for page turning!
There are many who feel the same way. Will real, bound books become one with Nineveh and Tyre*? Maybe so. I do not yet own a Kindle or Nook, but I am intrigued. If I did much traveling I would definitely snag one. The newest Kindle says it will hold 3,500 books. That would get you through the longest airport layover.
The prices, beyond the initial investment in an e-reader, hover between the cost of a typical mass-market paperback and a hardback. A title in the Hamish Macbeth mystery series is $10.99. A current bestseller is $2 more. A little pricier than I would expect for relieving the publisher of printing and shipping costs, but not bad and certainly convenient.
But give up real books altogether? Hmm. I get most books I read from the library. That's FREE, an important feature to a cheapskate. If real books go away, will libraries lend e-books? The Nook's advertisements boast that its owners will be able to lend books, so maybe so. The real test is "Can I read in the bathtub?" So far, neither the Kindle or Nook is saying it's safe for the bubble bath.
On the other hand, Cindy's concern for children's books resonated with me. Surely this will be the actually printed word's last stand. Could a Nook reproduce Dr. Seuss's illustrations? What would Kindle do with "Anno's Counting Book" which had no words at all? Of course, the iPad looks fully capable of handling "Hop on Pop" and "The Poky Little Puppy."
The bottom line is the bottom line. If people continue to buy books, they will continue to be printed. The future is in our hands.
*Obscure English literature reference, a la P.G. Wodehouse. See "Recessional" by Rudyard Kipling.