Paper Industry feeling eBook Pressure

Ebooks and Tablets are rapidly bringing us closer and closer to treating reading materials and media consumption to Star Trek levels, and while that is pretty exciting, the paper industry is starting to feel the pinch.

The popularity of digital media for books and documents has been accelerating for years, and paper manufacturing is on a dramatic decline. About 10% of books purchased in Canada last year were digital, and another survey says that 21% of people in the US own an eReader.

US Publishers are predicting that about half of books sold by 2014 will be digital, inciting a decline in the need for paper products and printing facilities.

Local newspapers are already feeling the pressure as subscriptions are far less than they used to be. I used to work in pre-press at my local paper, and I found that stories we were publishing were often 2-3 days older than what I had already read on popular sites like the one you are reading now.

This is an inevitable shift in technology in our culture. The transition will be a painful one while it reduces many jobs in the paper manufacturing industry.

However eBooks are creating more jobs in technology sectors, giving a broader avenue for content creators, and reducing deforestation. More trees means more fresh air.

There are still people who prefer the classic musty smell of an old book, or feeling the stacked soft pages in your hands as you read and gratifyingly turn from page to page. Those, however, do not seem valid enough reasons not to evolve into more convenient digital books that can be stacked thousands upon thousands in one small light easy to view digital device.

Do you still prefer books? Are you embracing the eBook revolution or staying traditional as long as you still can?


16 Responses to Paper Industry feeling eBook Pressure

  1. For the most part, I still prefer paper books to eBooks. So far, I've only purchased one eBook, and that was on sale (Google had it for sale shortly after launching their Google Play Store Books service… I paid $0.25 for it). On the other hand, I do enjoy going on Project Gutenberg and searching for "new" eBooks on there and downloading them to my smartphone, and I must admit I enjoy the convenience of having them where ever I go.

    Although I'll admit, part of what is holding me back with eBooks is the DRM (which isn't a problem with Project Gutenberg). Even the book I paid only $0.25 for is a bit annoying because I can only use Google's eBook reader to read it (and I can't read my other eBooks with that reader). We've finally (mostly) moved away from DRM on music files, now it is time to do the same for eBooks. Then maybe I'll change my mind about eBooks in general. In the meantime, barring free and greatly discounted eBooks, I'll stick with paper.

  2. I live in an area with no real bookstores except for the mega-walmart and a small used book store. I love my Kindle because I can actually get the books I want and don't have to wait for them or travel the 2 hours to the closest book store. They're also great for small apartments (books take up a lot of space) and people who like to read laying on their side (easier to hold up). I think I'm a digital reader now all the way

  3. Between DRM, the fact that electronic books can be deleted by the supplier at any time and the cheaper cost of buying books second hand, I will be sticking to dead tree editions for a long time yet!

  4. I have had my 3G Kindle since Christmas and finding it to be so much more convenient. It's smaller and lighter to carry around. If I finish my book while I'm out, I can download a new one no matter where I am. It takes up less room in my apartment. Best of all, the price of books are generally comparable to a paperback and new books are less expensive than a hard bound. The only drawbacks I have found are that I had to wait a little bit longer for the Kindle editions of new books (generally about 3 weeks, but what is three weeks when you have been waiting 3 years), and I do not have the disposable income to replace my entire library.

  5. I own an e-reader but I still prefer paper books.

    There are so many advantages the digital ebook provides us that it is hard to know where to get started but the industry is making the same mistake as the music one did. They are stuffing DRM down our throat whilst passing on none of the savings to us.

    Looking at the likes of Valve's Steam gaming service and Netflix I saw a limitless potential for ebooks but now the reality has set in and it is obvious how this is going to work.

    Furthermore I am not particularly fond of lithium ion batteries, we really need new battery technology that lasts a lot longer and is a lot cleaner. Lithium Ion batteries contain nasty metals, are expensive to recycle and stop working after about 2 or 3 years regardless of how much or how little you use them.

    Everything considered I still prefer buying paper books and downloading ebook versions from torrent websites. At this rate I think e-books have a future intertwined with torrent websites and not much more.

    Recently Marvel(comic books) came up with a scheme that allows you to walk into a comic book store, buy a comic, take said comic home and enter a code within the comic book into an app unlocking a digital version of your comic.

    That is something I would dearly like because thanks to our corporate overlord friends and their greed I am not willing to let DRM spoil my party. I want to have a hard copy to keep as long as DRM has a presence in the industry.

  6. I'll switch over once the FAA allows use of eReaders at times when regular books are allowed. I travel constantly for work, and there's still over a half-hour per flight (mostly between closing the door and reaching 10,000 feet) when I can read a paper book but not an eReader.

  7. I'd prefer ebooks even though I don't have a reader (yet), but they need to have 3 things first: DRM-free (they can be watermarked, I don't care about that), be in a good print friendly open format (pdf is good), and the most important: they should be priced accordingly to the cost of manufacturing another copy! Creating a new copy of an ebook costs a fraction of a €, so they should cost 2€ max. The current pricing situation is ridiculous – I can get a used printed book for the price of a cheap beer, and an ebook costs nearly 2x as much as a new printed book. This needs to change.

    • Note: the price of a cheap beer where I live is ~0,25€. A new paperback book costs here ~5€, a new hardcover book is ~10€. There is no native ebook seller so we have the same prices as everybody else in the world ~20€ for an ebook.

    • pdf is not good since it limits the formfactor of what is usually just floating text. In a time where we move from standardized paper formats to less standardized device formats we should drop pdf and it's like and turn to epub.

  8. I have to say both. I'll never give up my love of dead trees, but I'm reserving my paper purchases for books I'll read more than twice. I have a nice library of ebooks, mostly for convenience, and most of them classics I already own in traditional form. It's nice to always have a book in my pocket, but I'm just never going to give up my walls of dead trees.

  9. quote: "…reducing deforestation."
    This is a common misconception. Paper production is rarely a cause of permanent deforestation, and often the cause for reforestation. The paper industry is actually a very good steward of trees. Example,
    If arguing environmental impact, electronics production (mining, manufacturing, powering) is a far worse culprit than a printed edition.

    re: eBooks; I've tried a number on a variety of platforms (laptop, Android tablet), and I'm not a huge fan. If given the choice, I'll read a paper book.

  10. E-books are still over-priced. I have a Kindle Fire, but I don't buy as many books as i thought I would. I can often get a 2nd hand physical book cheaper than a digital book.

    I also have a mental obstacle, in that having a digital book doesn't feel like I own the book, and if I don't want it anymore I can't sell it. So I lost part of the real value, but was not compensated for it. When the cost of digital books (and comics… cause I buy a ton of comics every year) gets where I want it to be, maybe I'll be about it.

    Right now, digital books feel like more of a luxury to me.

  11. I stare at computer screens every day all day…I far prefer to be able to pick up a book and look at something different when offline. Also it is really kind of silly that despite the lack of a need for physical publication for ebooks the cost for ebooks is the same as a book on a book store shelf. That is just silly.

    One of my favorite things is used book stores and I doubt there will ever be an ability to browse and buy "used ebooks" for reduced costs anywhere once someone else is done with them. ;)

    That all said I do have Aldiko on my phone so that I can read books on the go of many different types if I want to, but that is more the exception for me than the norm.

  12. Personally to me it's just a format and much the way I switched from vinyl and Cd to download only, I'm switching to eBooks. I love sites like Project Gutenberg where you can catch up on free ebooks to start up your ebook collection, I know I have. But it all comes down to the types of books for me though. I love flicking through the glossy pages of hardcover movie 'Art Of' books and collectable hardcover books and that will still continue. For novels, I'm going with the eBooks.

    I do agree with what Geoffrey said about having a hard copy but redeem a code so you can have a digital copy as well, just like they do with the triple play blu-rays (ie blu-ray, DVD & Digital Copy). Maybe that's the way to go?

  13. With ebooks selling for pennies authors can no longer make a living by writing. There will be less Stephen King's or Arthur C. Clarke's, just more content providers. The music industry, sale of CD's, (most musicians can barely give away a CD, let alone sell one) is probably the best example of the ebook future. This said, there is no turning back.

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