Saturday, May 21, 2011
E-books or p-books?
Amazon announced on Thursday that they are selling more e-books for Kindle than print books (p-books) - hardcover and paperback books combined. Since April 1, 2011, Amazon has sold 105 e-books for every 100 print book. That includes sales of hardcover and paperback books that have no Kindle edition, and not counting free Kindle downloads. This is not even four years since Amazon started the Kindle business in November 2007, and less than one year after they announced that e-book sales surpassed hardcover book sales last July.
This is definitely a significant milestone. But to be honest, I haven't really figured out how I feel about this. I love the physical existence of p-books (hence also known as "real books"). There is the irreplaceable intimacy of feeling it as an object: look, touch, and sometimes smell the fresh ink. But I enjoy my iPad a lot as well. E-books are compact, lightweight - convenient to carry around. They are cheaper and you can get them right away, in the comfort of your own home or on the go. But it's always fun to physically be in bookstores and browse around real books. You can flip through the pages and get a quick idea about the content. It's easier to write notes on the margin of p-books, but e-books are easier to search and the highlight function is really powerful. And the built-in dictionary allows you to check out definitions of words with just one touch.
The most amazing thing about e-books for me is the interactive dimension of the format. Many magazines embed multimedia materials like slideshows, audio and videos in their digital edition, enriching the experience of reading and revolutionizing what we perceive as the publishing industry.
It may look ridiculous nowadays to carry scrolls of papyrus around. But some of them have survived the evolution of technology because they contain valuable original knowledge. Continue this thinking of the basics, both p-books and e-books allow you to do the most important thing - to read a book. The essence is the content. Maybe it doesn't really matter so much what form it takes.