by Gillian Nicol

My dad passed along this video to me through e-mail and I thought it was quite clever. Being an up and comer in the publishing industry it also got me thinking about the digital industry’s affect on books and authors. The question remains…is paper dead? In my opinion and from what we see in this short commercial, I don’t think so.

I have always been an avid reader. My childhood bedroom has a bookcase filled with stories from my past: the entire Harry Potter series, A Series of Unfortunate Events and almost every Sarah Dessen novel…just to name a few. Our guest bedroom has a built in bookcase housing more stories and my dad’s den displays every book he has ever read, the pages yellowed emitting that well known “book smell.” Despite our love of a good paperback both my dad and I are the proud owners of Amazon Kindles, which begs the questions: where will that leave our bookcases?

In this time of growing and ever changing “On Demand” technologies, the e-reader has become an extremely popular electronic device to own and enjoy. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and Apple’s iPad are among the top tablet competitors that consumers have to choose from, each with their own set of pros and cons. I have two Kindles; one of them is the original and my newest is the Kindle Fire, equipped with Internet but not great for reading on the beach like the digital ink e-readers before it. From time to time I also read from the Kindle app on my iPhone; yes it is small but usually within arms reach.

Being a true techie, I am continually running into the strange situation of loving a book that I have read and will 174161_1798recommend it to my fellow bookworm friends. Sure Amazon has the lending program where Kindle books can be loaned to another reader for a period of 14 days. However not all books are eligible for lending nor do many of my friends own a Kindle (despite my encouragement and Amazon guaranteeing you can still read from your phone or iPad if you have one equipped for Amazon reading). Plus, 14 days might be considered a time crunch for some readers. At the end of the day, even though I may read on a Kindle my friends will more than likely be buying the paperback.

My father on the other hand takes a different approach. He loved the Bruce Springsteen biography by Peter A. Carlin so much after reading it on his eReader that he also purchased a hardcover copy. He says that one of his colleagues at work does the same thing which I suppose solves the problem of whether or not your physical bookshelf will stop growing. Me on the other hand? I’m the iPad wielding man in the video clip. I have 26 electronic books and counting. I can’t remember the last time I was in a bricks and mortar bookstore.  In the “pre-ereader age” my mum would have to pry me out of the book store aisles while also bargaining with me on how many books I could buy on that visit. Now, I can sit at home and have a book download into the palm of hands within seconds. But is one a better experience than the other?

It will be interesting to see how the electronic publishing industry changes over the next 5, 10, even 15 years.  In order to keep print alive will we one day get a free print copy with every eBook purchase? Will we see independently owned bookstores completely fade out or will there be resurgence for the “printed word?” Despite my love for books (both electronic and printed) my hope is that paper will not die. I’m not sure that I would ever get used to a world where school libraries consist of e-readers to borrow and not aisles of Dewey Decimal system sorted books. It is truly a fascinating time in the publishing world and I’m excited to be along for the ride. Paper’s not dead yet!

Image courtesy of cornerma01

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