We live in an age where software is eating the world. Old media is getting destroyed by the three S's ..... smartphones, streaming and social media. The way we consume media has changed more in the last decade than at anytime in history. Eyeballs have moved away from TVs, Newspapers and magazines towards glass (smartphones, tablets and ebook readers) and it has been massively disruptive for business models that have been around for decades if not a century.
I'm starting to see a small bit of good news for one of the embattled industries... book publishers. Like many people I quickly embraced the Kindle when it launched and lauded it as a great new step forward in technology. I could carry hundreds of books with me wherever I went and cut down the weight I was carrying when traveling. As you can see from the graph that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared a couple of years ago the Kindle was flying and destroying traditional book sales...
After a couple of years using the Kindle I started noticing a couple of things...
- I wasn't finishing books I started
- I was buying loads of books and never reading them
- I wasn't discovering very good books that broadened my mind
Somewhere in the middle of last year I decided to go back to proper paper books and it is the best decision I've ever made. Yesterday I found myself in a book shop picking up the following 8 books...
As I came home with my shopping I had the following thoughts....
- I liked the fact I was giving an Irish business my money instead of Amazon
- I found books that all had massive interest to me because I spent an hour in carefully curated sections where I could read the blurbs, look at covers and compare them to other books on the subject. I found that much easier to do in the real world than online
- For 98 Euros I was going to make myself a lot smarter. I send similar money online on apps, content and music etc but I never get through most of it as I tend to flick onto the "next big thing"
Have eBooks Peaked?
I'm not the only person heading back to more traditional books. There is evidence that although the eBook market got off to a flying start, growth is now starting to taper off...
Crucially the media and people online have changed the narrative in the last year. Suddenly we no longer live in a world where traditional books are "dead" but rather a world where Kindle's can live alongside traditional books. There is a case to be made for both and people will use whichever they are most comfortable with.
Here is the proof of the pudding as to what readers prefer...... http://t.co/YVzs5snGoY
— Patti Petrone Miller (@PattiPetroMill) January 13, 2015
I love my Kindle for traveling, but I really prefer a good old fashioned book! http://t.co/Y8IvDob3kP
— Barbara Skinner (@artnbarb) January 18, 2015
Owned a Kindle for almost 2 years and it still hasn't grown on me. I still prefer a good old fashioned book - wrinkl…https://t.co/G8NyJvYc4O
— Rae Blaylark (@RaeBlaylark) December 26, 2014
The Book Is Dead, Long Live The Book
The humble book has been around for centuries so we shouldn't have expected it to just leave without a fight. I do think that this is a very specific industry though and other media shouldn't get excited about their own industries seeing a similar recovery. It won't happen with newspapers, magazines or music. For the most part technology makes the offering we have today better but books are different. In summary the main reasons I think books are making a comeback for me are...
- People are rallying against being connected all the time. A book offers me a great chance to get offline and escape the digital world
- Books make me smarter. I can learn more from them than I can spending time online as I get distracted too easily
- There is nothing quite like the feel of a book. Finishing it and putting it on the bookshelf. Seeing stacks of them you have read. Looking at the covers. etc
- I think consumers understand the work that goes into a book. Thy want to pay for it. They also like supporting local businesses (even though vast majority of books will be sold by Amazon)
Being back on books is probably the best decision I've made in the last couple of years. I've made a resolution to read 100 in 2015. That is one every 3.5 days which is a serious challenge but given how much time I waste online and how much smarter they'll be making me it is worth doing.
Just when you thought the book was gone it comes back from the dead. Long live the book.