Monday Musings | The Future of Print Books

2015 Reading Bookish New Year Resolutions

I think, for as long as we live, we will always worry about new technology taking over old technology.

Sometimes these worries are valid (cassette tapes, anyone?) but sometimes we’re a little too pessimistic. In publishing (and for avid readers in general), the hot topic has been the rise of e-books. Will there be an e-reading generation that doesn’t value print books? Will the printed word go extinct?

So far, studies have been inconclusive. There is evidence that my generation of readers (as well as older generations) still value physical books, but are open to trying other forms of reading. I have no doubt that I will attempt to pass on my love of print to the next generation, but I also have no idea how receptive they will be to my cajoling. Though I’m sure the print book isn’t going to go extinct anytime soon (in 2013, 17% of books purchased in Canada were ebooks), I still wonder if there’s a future where most people will prefer reading from an e-reader or tablet…

What do you think? Are you a print book purist? Or have you converted to e-reading? Do you think the anxieties over whether print books will go extinct is silly, or something to be worried about? What is the value of a print book over a digital one?

(I personally think it’s a little bit silly to worry about this, but I’d also be devastated if publishers stopped printing books. I’m not a print book purist as I do own an e-reader, but I much prefer reading in print. Take that as you will!)

14 thoughts on “Monday Musings | The Future of Print Books

  1. adventuresofareader says:

    I read both print and ebooks. Ebooks have their advantages but I prefer, and always will, print books. I think print books are easier on the eyes, I also love having a physical representation of how much I have left to read.

  2. annabelsmith says:

    I think the media hams up the ‘death of the book’ out of all proportion. After the initial flurry of excitement, e-book sales have plateaued. I have a Kindle but I use it only when I travel – the rest of the time I love a print book. So many of us look at screens for much of the day – it’s nice to do something electronic. I don’t think the print book is going to die out anytime soon.

  3. Sandra says:

    I always thought that I would never prefer e-reading to a real book and, yet, the last 9 out of 10 books I read were on my e-reader! There are many reasons to love e-reading, but the best reason for me is the fact that they are so easy and portable. The books are almost always more affordable, you can instantly have a book, no more messy book shelves or piles of books everywhere, backlight (which doesn’t disturb anyone else when you are reading in the dark), you can change the size and style of the font (great for those of us who need glasses, lol). I am slowly realizing that I prefer e-reading. I don’t ever see print books going out completely, though. They will always be around…

  4. Naomi says:

    I only ever read print. When e-readers first came out I was a little worried, but as time goes by, and the excitement over them has passed, I don’t feel like there’s anything to worry about.

  5. ebookclassics says:

    I mostly use an e-reader which is a blessing when reading an 800-page book (who wants to carry that around?). But I recently snagged a stack of books from BEA and I have to say I really savoured holding the hard covers and turning the crisp pages. New Book Smell is a real thing and I love it! I don’t think print books will become extinct during this generation, but is a possibility a few generations from now.

  6. Leah says:

    I’m not too worried about the fate of print books. I think about 15% of my reading is digital (mostly because of convenience), but I still far prefer print. And as long as people like us exist, so will print books!

  7. The Paperback Princess says:

    I don’t have an e-reader and I have no plans to get one. But I know a lot of people that swear by theirs. And that’s fine – we can find room for both. The convenience of e-readers have turned people into readers. Cassettes are no longer around because other technology improved the quality of the experience. I don’t think that’s the same thing with e-books. I think that reading a print book is still a perfect experience. For some, the e-reader provides this experience. So there will always be room for both. I’m not worried (anymore).

  8. Sarah's Book Shelves says:

    I’m not sure I ever worry about new techs taking over old techs…I mean, does anyone really miss cassette tapes? They were replaced with something better…it doesn’t mean people stopped listening to music. It’s just a different way of listening to music.
    I was anti-e reader for so long, but once I got one I never looked back. I now find it really difficult to read in print. However, I do like to have physical books on my bookshelves at home. For me, this is a choice driven by my lifestyle…I have young kids at home so I read in small snippets whenever and wherever I can, which makes a Kindle really helpful. I don’t have long periods of time to curl up with a huge hardback. Also, I think people have different reading preferences and that’s great…as long as they’re reading, then who cares how people do it! Bottom line, the numbers show many people do still prefer to read actual books, so I’m sure as long as that trend continues, then we’ll have print books!
    PS – I’m in my mid/upper 30’s, so someone younger may have a very different answer.

  9. Liz says:

    I still read about 90% of my books in physical book format. I only use e-reader when I travel, or if the book is considerably cheaper or not available except in e format.

  10. joyousreads says:

    I’m a reluctant user of my Kindle. I see the convenience in them, but at the end of the day, I like flipping the page of an actual book…and the whiff of those printed paper…heaven. 🙂

  11. Herbert Steib says:

    Your post sounds very interesting. I prefer print books, and who is able to look at screens the whole day? Found your appealing blog today.
    Greetings from germany.
    Herbert Steib

  12. DoingDewey says:

    I really like my Kindle for travelling and will use it for advance review copies I can only get as ebooks, but I definitely still prefer physical books. Turning pages and finishing a book are more satisfying to me with a physical book and the smell and feel of a physical book are hard to beat.

  13. Shaina says:

    I think we’re kindred spirits in this regard. I love my Kindle for its portability and ability to hold thousands of books, but there’s nothing like cracking open a regular ol’ paper and glue book. Whenever I think about buying books, I’m almost always thinking of physical ones rather than e-books, despite the fact that e-books are much easier to store! 😉

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