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Electronic books outselling those printed on dead trees

May 23, 2011 - Art Smith
Last Thursday, announced it is now selling more electronic books than the old-fashioned kind printed on dead trees.

The sale of electronic books has gained traction faster than even Amazon thought.

I, for one, am not surprised for a couple of reasons.

During the last six months I have become a big fan of e-readers and the flexibility they provide.

We live in a land of instant gratification, and delivery of a book NOW, instead of 4-6 days later, appeals to many shoppers, including me.

Most sellers of e-books allow you to sample several chapters before buying. The electronic equivalent of standing in a bookstore and reading a few pages is a powerful selling tool and is one that has sucked me in more than once.

Electronic books are cheaper than “real” books. Those who know me know this is important to me. I personally think e-books should be cheaper yet. You don’t have to print them and you don’t have to ship them. Cut the price so you have the same profit as a printed book and you will sell even more e-books. Besides you don’t really own them in the sense you do a printed book. It would be difficult to give a Google book away, or make an extended loan of a book to someone. The textbook versions of e-books even expire after a certain amount of time, making it somewhat difficult to refer back to it later in life.

Electronic books are adaptable. I like to read late at night. My 50-year-old eyes do not focus the same way they once did. Electronic readers allow you to not only adjust the type size but also the color of the type and the background. Some readers offer a night mode that allows you to make type white on a black background so that others in the room can sleep.

Electronic books are lightweight. A Kindle, for instance, can hold more books than a bookcase and is a lot easier to take with you on vacation.

I personally use an Apple iPad as an e-reader and have sampled the software of several of the sellers. I’m currently reading a book through the Nook reader, I’ve also have read a few using Google Books.

Most readers allow you to read your book on a variety of devices and will remember what page you were on if you switch devices. You can start a book on your iPad, switch to a computer and then read it on your phone if you get stuck somewhere having to wait.

There are some downsides. Some are hard to read in direct sunlight. They all must eventually be plugged into a power sources, and as with all electronic media, it only will last as long as the device or service. While I still have copies of books passed down for generations, I can’t imagine future grandchildren wanting to use the “ancient” technology we use today. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine them wanting to read the books I read either, so I guess we are OK.


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