Bye Bye Bookstore?

Say it ain’t so, Amazon! The company announced recently that for the first time, e-book sales are topping hardcover sales. I love technology as much as the next gal, but I just can't fathom giving up on traditional books. I constantly have at least one novel stuffed in my handbag, piles of books on my bedside table and still others lying around the house. One of my greatest pleasures is spending an hour or two in a bookstore, flipping through new releases and discovering hidden treasures. I love the smell of the pages and the satisfying thump of closing a great book when you finally finish it. How can I get that with an e-book?

 

A recent New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/20/technology/20kindle.html) explored the soaring popularity of e-books. Claire Cain Miller reported that Amazon is now selling 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. That statistic even shocks Amazon’s chief executive, Jeffrey Bezos. In the article, he tells Miller the shift is “astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.”

 

So what’s causing the shift to electronic? An informal poll amongst Greenough employees and friends found that e-book and traditional book enthusiasts are split about 50/50. Most e-book lovers cited the ease of transport as their main reason for choosing to go digital for their reading pleasure. “I was tired of lugging a hard-cover book (or two or three) with me on business trips and envied everyone else with their compact and light kindles and iPads,” said one friend. “I thought I'd miss the feel of a real book, but I don't. I find I read faster without fumbling around with the pages and you can adjust the font size, etc. which I like.”

 

Others admitted that although they love the digital book downloads, the cost can be prohibitive, considering that you can get the same hardcover titles for free at the local library. Other traditionalists say they just don’t enjoy the electronic experience as much as thumbing through a good old-fashioned bound book.

 

As for me, I can see the appeal of not having to lug books on the train while commuting to work every day, but I think I’d miss the feel of a book in my hand and the excitement of seeing a stack of new hard covers in my suitcase, packed for vacation. But I’m willing to give digital a try – I just downloaded the Nook application onto my phone, and plan on purchasing my first e-book this week. We’ll see whether I become one of the many converts.

 

As always, we welcome your thoughts.

 

 

 --Contributed by Amy Erickson

Follow her @amyerickson