Several years ago the success of digital books, mostly related to the wide reception of the Kindle reading device, spawned a big debate amongst readers, editors, authors, and publishers. The question: would digital books kill the sales of print books? At the time most experts agreed the print book had seen its day and the vast majority of readers would shift over to digital. Back then I was one of the few, at least on the web, who took the other position. Print books are here to stay.
Print books are here to stay. It is interesting to note that most of my peers in the publishing industry postulated that the death of print books would be, in large part, a generational thing. It was postulated that younger readers prefer their devices. They prefer their technology.
Truth is, I have traveled through many states and spoken with thousands of students. In public schools a decent portion of the readers did later purchase my books on their iPads and their Kindle readers. Yet still the vast majority purchased the print copy. Some readers bought both. In the homeschool crowd I found many readers like myself, and for the most part they preferred print copies. Print copies can be signed by the author and lifted to your face for that comforting book smell. Ah! Ink on paper.
My personal library contains books dating back to the mid-1800’s. Those books have been handled by people long dead. The scent of the people and of the world they lived in contributes to the book experience in a way digital books never can. Physical books have memory in their pages and in their cover.
I have nothing against digital books. They have been a marvelous medium through which to expand my readership and my own reading material. Also, I have read a fair number of books on my own iPad and have greatly enjoyed it. But they are not an artifact. Nor can they be. A print book can stand on a shelf as a discussion piece. A print book retains an element of each person that touched it.
The publishing industry should not have been so swift to judge print books as artifacts. They are here to stay. Most readers of my books are middle graders, high schoolers, and college students… and they prefer paperbacks.
Question: What advantage do you see with paperback books?
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