How Digital Will You Be?

June 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm 1 comment

Amazon.com touts the new Kindle: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images.

Who knew? 16 shades of gray! Is that the best the digital world can do?

My friend John B. is raving about his Kindle reader. I haven’t seen one yet, and I’m just curmudgeonly enough to believe I would NOT want to use one. I like to think I’m open minded. But at the same time, I know what I like. Steaks – medium rare. Weather – sunny and cool. iPod tunes – loud and funky. Dogs – quiet. Books – paper-y.

With all the media attention to Amazon’s Kindle reader, it’s easy to think this device may do to printed books what the iPod and digital music transfer did to “printed” music. Making the transition to digital music was easy for me, and a very pleasant experience. I am occasionally nostalgic for a vinyl LP, but that sentimentality is rare and goes away when I think of cleaning and storing the dated discs.

Digital cameras, of course, have nearly decimated the film market. And since weekend photographers everywhere struggle to properly position a film spool in the camera body, no one misses the old style point-and-shoot camera. And yet, digital pictures get stored on hard drives and are seldom seen, until Grandma calls again and demands that she did not get the e-mail you sent, and would you just snail-mail some “real” pictures, please?!

An old bookshelf. I'll dust it gladly.

An old bookshelf. I'll dust it gladly.


I don’t, however, see a digital product world that completely kills book printing. I sure hope not anyway. I know that Kindle sales are on the rise, and that a growing number of book publishers are embracing the technology. The New York Times recently reported on Simon & Schuster’s decision to work with Scrib’d.com, a document-sharing site, on book promotions. Scrib’d will allow readers to sample books, followed by links to sales of printed or electronic editions, possibly uploadable to an iPhone.

Still, as I search the digital world for tips on social marketing and the latest trends in PR and communications, I am continually linked to websites selling printed books! The Book Industry Study Group will release its annual finds sometime in July on the state of book sales. Reports from the group’s 2008 study indicated that “flat is the new up” in book sales. Isn’t that true of many industries? In fact, flat would be a boon to many retailers right now. Of course, some of these book sales are digital, but a small percentage. In the adult trade segment (not that kind of “adult”), net reveune in 2008 reached $11.13 billion. Of that total, digital sales reached a net revenue of just $113 million. No doubt, new Kindle reader sales will increase that percentage of e-books greatly for 2009, and we’ll wait and see just how greatly.

I, meantime, will enjoy our new community library. I’ll put up with losing my place in a book when I fall asleep reading. I’ll dust the bookshelves. I’ll carry around a volume or two, even weighty hardcovers. Just don’t make me carry around yet another charger cord. Or count 16 shades of gray.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Greg Tada  |  June 18, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I’m a total tech nerd, but I agree that technology for the sake of technology is silly. However, in the case of the Kindle, I think for my glasses-wearing parents they really appreciate being able to change the text size. It’s nothing a magnifying glass (or God forbid their glasses) couldn’t solve, but the overall convenience of the device is worth it to them.

    Reply

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