The Future of Books

I must admit that I am a big fan of Amazon.com and have been loyally purchasing products from it since 2001. I don’t buy a lot from Amazon, but I do write a lot reviews and often peruse the treasure chest of customer data when considering potential purchases. But despite how much money I spend on Amazon, the site has been good to me. Amazon has provided conscientious and personalized suggestions of various products as well as free books over the past few years. I am awaiting the free Kindle offer, but don’t expect it to come anytime soon. For someone that loves to read, you would think an e-reader would be ideal. But I still don’t have one even though I have looked at a B&N’s Nook and thought about the Kindle. My biggest problem is that I would then have to buy books, or at least electronic facsimiles of them. And that bothers me, especially since Amazon is already sending me free hard copies of books through its Vine program and the library is near my house. As much as I want a e-reader to easily store and read several books at once, I am not ready to pay for the books I read. Why isn’t there a peer-to-peer transfer system for wireless e-readers to zip books across the ether? What about a website for second hand e-books? These are both unlikely scenarios, not surprisingly, which means that the price of books will continue to stay around $10 at the low end.

But let’s think of where the future of books is headed in light of other forms of media and entertainment. I no longer pay for the music I listen to thanks to Pandora and podcasts. If I switch over to e-books, I don’t want to pay for those either. I know this is unfair to the author or the publisher, but it is no different that what has happened to the music artist and the recording company. Print has changed with respect to newspapers and magazines and those companies holding on to the old world will go the way of the dinosaurs. Refusing to change has nothing to do with holding on to core values or tradition and everything to do with the lack of acknowledging change. More change will come to books as well. You and I can’t stop it. Prices will have to go down with time regardless of how hard Apple, Amazon and the publishers try to maintain a price floor. I mean, how much does it cost to publish an e-book, really? If I could get books for free in exchange for watching an ad every 50 pages or so, I would be purchasing an e-reader as soon as I could choose which model to buy. I think time will prove this view to be correct. Text is no different than music and video. And look at those industries. Do you pay much for those services you use these days? Would you pay more than what you are now? Didn’t think so. Books will soon be the same, just wait and see.

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