OUR VIEWS: Go ahead, be a bookworm

Jun 29, 2012


Reports point to the massive number of people who received either iPads, Kindles, Nooks or other digital reading devices this past Christmas. And those who didn't get one are buying one for themselves.

How interesting that folks are gobbling up books and other media like never before. It seems the electronic gadgets have led to a renaissance of sorts for the written word.

In an article published last month, Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Lunch, said “about 3 million to 5 million e-readers were activated last week.” What market watchers will be focusing on is if the trend continues at an advanced rate.

Beyond the convenience factor for consumers — click, click, download anywhere and read — are the significant savings. After the initial purchase of the e-reader device, which generally ranges from $100 to $200, electronic books typically cost half of what the print versions sell for.

At a Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators national conference in Los Angeles last summer, a prestigious editor predicted that by 2014, e-books would be the main revenue stream for publishers and authors.

The large, colorful children's print books parents recall thumbing through in their youth are being replaced by devices children can hold in the palm of their hand and turn the pages with a fingertip on a touchscreen. And there's nothing wrong with that.

The exciting novel, coloring picture book or even current news magazine isn't vanishing — it's simply being delivered to consumers in a different way. Print media is morphing and the commercial market and demand is driving the change. It reflects a change in the industry, not product or content quality.

The gradual consumer shift away from print to “e” will likely create openings for aspiring writers who imagine becoming authors. Book publishers, reluctant to contract new writers due to the volume of paper material, are seeing opportunities to offer more titles to consumers without the traditional overhead.

Technological changes used to mean products or businesses became obsolete. The print media business is discovering print is only one way to reach consumers, much akin to the music industry and its consumer-driven delivery-system changes in the past 40 years.

Long gone are 45-rpm records, and 8-track and cassette tapes. And with the purchase of music downloads, the CD format is being slowly replaced. But you can still buy The Beatles' first album anytime you want. The music is still sweet — only its delivery has changed.

In the end, if more people are reading, that's a good thing. It doesn't matter how they're reading, just that they're reading. Our grade school teachers of yesteryear would be thrilled to see how enthralled we are with the written word, as it means books are alive and well in our society.

Keep reading!

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


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