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Is The Printed Book Dead?

Topics: Popular Media | 3 CommentsBy admin | August 27, 2010

The “is it dead” question gets pretty tedious, until it becomes a reality, as with newspapers. Is the death of the book imminent? If you answer that question with a resounding “no”, I’d bet a nickel you’re over forty.


Not surprisingly, this title is
only available for the Kindle

Is it dead yet? Is the Internet dead? Is Facebook dead? If you spend enough time on the web, this kind of question becomes incredibly tedious. See The Tragic Death of Practically Everything if you don’t know what I mean; it’s a tidy roundup of press about the death of everything from iPods to e-mail, including the death of both print and eBooks. Now that would be a tragedy. If that happened, what would we read, especially now that the iPad is killing the magazine (and 18 other things) as well? As a result of all this kind of linkbait content flooding the web, I actually find it refreshing when one of these deaths is more or less confirmed. Especially when it impacts me directly. It wasn’t too long ago that you could debate whether newspapers are dead, but I think the eulogy is being delivered as you read this. And now, at last, I think the real death of the printed book is imminent. Although as recently as September 2009 I was pondering the pros and cons of eBooks vs their dead tree counterparts, a few pieces of information finally tipped the scales for me recently, which was a relief, because I’m nearly finished with a book myself, and was struggling a bit with how to market it. The fact that there’s an iPad vs Kindle debate going on at all is a powerful statement that those who understand books and making money are committed to the future of the eBook. But what is probably informing my decision even more is the wealth of information about how much money you DON’T make in traditional publishing. My first glimpse into this was this article from last year in which the author of a top 20 NYT bestseller shares that she netted about 27 grand for her troubles. And most recently, influencer and media guru Seth Godin said that in spite of his significant success with traditional publishing, he’s giving it up for his future releases. Which has helped me solidify my plan to forgo the traditional publishing route (unless you can introduce me to Ellen or Oprah) and utilize a mix of guerrilla marketing and the web, with print on demand solutions to satisfy the paper-addicted. I often joke that with certain technologies like landline phones you need only wait for the over-fifty crowd to die and the technology will die with them, but books are much more emotional. What do you think? Will the book be joining its distant cousin the newspaper within say, a decade? And if your answer is a resolute “no”, are you over forty?

I’d say this technology has seen its day:

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Stella on 08.27.10 8:08 am

    Why must everything I love die?

  2. Posted by jeanne on 08.27.10 8:20 am

    I hear you Ian. and. I’m sad that books and bookstores are heading for demise. It is one of the pleasures of life to amble through a bookstore and smell and feel books.
    I’m simply in the Boo Hoo about it all.

  3. Posted by admin on 08.27.10 10:17 am

    Even when I worked in a bookstore years ago (I LOVE books, btw), I eagerly anticipated the “eBook”, even though it was only a dream at the time. Mostly for environmental reasons. But I have to say that I would be quite happy if 90% of the books in print WEREN’T in print. I’ve always joked that the proliferation of literacy and publishing tools has done more to damage the quality of the printed word than poverty ever could. I think it would be FANTASTIC if there were still print books, but if they were expensive enough to create that only “worthy” material would be printed in quality form. Sounds elitist, but I think the world would survive without hardcover editions of Dan Brown novels

    ;)