Magazine sales are down, newspaper sales are down, and book sales are down. Sure we all buy less in a recession and with the price of books (and magazines, sheesh) they definitely are a luxury item that gets listed lower on our shopping list. But the recession is not the only factor affecting book sales.
In the last five years technology has become the biggest factor. I’ve mentioned e-book numerous times over the last year either in the form of readers or online shops featuring them. I honestly believe this is where the future of books will be. We can deny it all we want but the facts can’t be ignored: ebook sales are on the rise (as are ebook readers); ebook readers can hold libraries of books that the average person could not possibly effectively store in their home; they don’t collect dust, don’t need proper humidity, don’t smell over time; and if you want to go with the environmental factor–don’t use valuable resources like trees.
There is a generation of people who remain true to the sound of pages turning and having bindings on the shelf. Heck, I can’t walk past a bookstore without going in and coming out with a new book (or a reprint of an old book). But in the next decade or so many avid “bookies” are going to be… well, gone; or at least converted.
Myself, I come from an age that is a combination of old ways and technology. But the ones coming up behind up behind me, they are pure techies. They have their laptops, mP3 players, ipods, Blackberrys, cellphones, Wiis, Nintendos etc. I can’t see the use for books, even for nostalgia being high on their list. Books are cumbersome, they take up space and they are more expensive then downloading the latest novel or text book from online. And they don’t have to move from wherever they happen to be sitting to get one.
As I mentioned earlier books are not alone in this decline. The same holds true for newspapers and magazines. Most are now available online in some form and can be downloaded into an ebook reader.
It is no longer a matter of “if” it will happen. It is only a matter of when. I expect to see it my lifetime; so in the next forty to sixty years (I plan on staying around for a while). It’s going to be interesting to see albeit a bit sad too.
This piece was first published on 8/11/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.