Despite booksellers enduring a difficult 2011, reading is still very much alive and well, particularly through the e-book medium. In an increasingly electronic world, the once prominent paperback is slowly heading off into the sunset thanks to the favored and more convenient e-book ecosystem.
According to Reuters, internet retailer Amazon, who catalyzed the market four years ago with it’s Kindle, said the popularity of reading is only going up. The news comes after an earlier report that focused on how the publishing industry plans to adapt to the burgeoning digital revolution:
“It’s really been all good news this year. Reading is becoming more popular in general,” said Chris Schluep, senior books editor at Amazon, the biggest online bookseller in the United States. “It’s so easy to buy a book now.”
Not only is it easier to buy a book, the hassle of carrying it around has changed drastically thanks to devices like the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Amazon’s new Kindle Touch, which was released last month, can store up to 3,000 books in its built-in memory. When I was in school, I had a hard time carrying around just four or five.
Between April 1 and May 19 of this year, Amazon said it sold 105 Kindle e-books for every 100 print books. Any guesses on Amazon’s best selling book of the year (electronic or paper)? None other than Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.
“He changed business, design, the world,” Schluep said of Jobs. “A lot of people are reading it on devices he designed.”
For bookworms, 2011 was a quality year, with offerings like “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan, “Swamplandia” by Karen Russell and “The Terror of Living” by Urban Waite.
Schluep said consumers are gravitating toward more literary books, citing “1Q84” by Haruki Murakami, and “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides. In addition, Schluep said that 2011 has been a great year for debut novels as well as books on the economy, “Right now people are more interested in the economy so they’re noticing the books.”
Personally, I’m thrilled reading is being embraced in an increasingly tech focused world, whether it be through e-books or paperback. As someone who previously worked at a library, it would be a tragedy for me to see an institution that is so integral to the community disappear completely. That’s not to say there aren’t further challenges ahead for writers, publishers, etc.
Another upside of the growing e-book movement? While the romanticism of a writer’s life may now have the luster it once did, they now have the ability to self publish.
“This is about a direct line between writer and reader,” Scluep said. “Publishing is changing and I don’t have a handle on where it’s going to be, but the movement is towards more people having more control.”
Do we have any bookworms among us? What is your reading device of choice?