The book industry has always been an integral part of society. However, recent surges in technology, especially the internet, have put this industry under pressure and have transformed it into a broader, more competitive entity. In the past, the book store was the only pace to buy and sell books but these buildings could be soon be obsolete with the introduction of online shopping for books and the more impressive and rapidly growing industry of e-books, as seen by the accompanying chart1.
Figures from 2012 show that giant online bookstore Amazon, is now selling 1.4 e-books for every print book sold and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down2. These steps in technology give both readers and authors great opportunities. The introduction of online shopping and e-books have given consumers food for thought in regards to what way they go about buying a book. The somewhat “old-fashioned” way in some regards of visiting the nearby bookstore is nearly a thing of the past with the introduction of online shopping.
The now giant online superstore Amazon.com was the first online bookstore back in 1994, created by Jeffrey Bezos3. It gave book readers the benefit of being able to buy books from home as well offering lower prices. Publishers don’t need to fill shelves with books, once a book is ordered it is produced and shipped to the customer4. The unneeded stock pile of books results in lower costs for the publisher and thus lower costs for the online buyer. These two options result in the customer buying a paper book. The third option differs from this and really brings technology to the fore.
E-books are rapidly growing and are taking the book industry over by storm. E-books can be bought over the internet and downloaded to various devices (e-readers) such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad. They offer many advantages over paper books to readers5. Compared to some paper books which are big, heavy, cumbersome objects to be carrying around, hundreds of e-books can be stored on an e-reader. In terms of costs, e-books offer the cheaper option than paper books as no trees or ink have to be used in the sale of e-books.
E-books also offer the benefit of privacy in regards to others knowing what book you are reading as well as offering certain tools such as a dictionary, built in lights, access to the internet etc. Special add-ons can also be included as part of an e-book such as additional pictures or content6. The introduction of e-books could possibly have a greater effect for authors than readers. Their introduction has expanded the book world, allowing the smaller authors to be seen as well as letting smaller business compete4.
A similar technological progression in the music and movie industry resulted in some parts of the industry being destroyed as CDs replaced VCRs and cassettes, thus rendering the latter obsolete4. As previously mentioned, e-books require lower cost to be produced and do not require shelf space to be seen. This means that even small time authors can get their books produce without too much difficulty as publishing such e-books bears little costs to the publisher7. The lower cost also results in higher margins for the publisher as well as the author.
On the other side of the coin, since e-books are downloaded digitally, once a customer buys one, they can easily send it onto another customer8. This piracy results in losses for both the publisher and author. The chart shows the increase in piracy and file-sharing since mid-2008 with the use of such file-sharing websites as Rapidshare. com, 4shared. com and Megaupload. net9. In conclusion, the progression of technology and the internet has changed the book industry drastically.
Gone are the days where one had to make the journey to the bookshop in order to read the newly released classic. Online shopping has cut out that journey with the click of the button while e-books have cut out the physical book altogether. In my opinion, the future book industry will be taken over by e-books with paper books being left to be a thing of the past.
References 1 Terra, Evo. (2012) ‘2008 – 2011 Book Sales Chart’, 2nd March 2012. Available at: https://plus. google.com/109993735355691141353/posts/fr3e3N171nr (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 2 BBC News (2012) ‘Amazon selling more Kindle eBooks than print books’, 6th August 2012. Available at: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/technology-19148146 (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 3 Byers, A. (2007) ‘Jeff Bezos: The Founder of Amazon. com. ’.
New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. 4 Kagan, J. (2012) ‘How the E-Book Is Reinventing the Book Business, E-Commerce Times’, 2nd September. Available from: http://www. ecommercetimes. com/story/74383. html (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 5 Hess, S.(2012) ‘E-Books or Real Books: What Book Lovers Think – The benefits and drawbacks of e-books’, 31st January.
Available at: http://www. webpronews. com/e-books-or-real-books-what-book-lovers-think-2012-01 (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 6 Willans, J. (2012) ‘The 5 most exciting ways tech has revolutionized the book industry’, 30th April. Available at: http://conversations. nokia. com/2012/04/30/the-5-most-exciting-ways-tech-has-revolutionized-the-book-industry/ (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 7 Bosman, J (2008) ‘Small Book Publishers Offered New Technology’ , 3rd September.
Available at: http://www. nytimes. com/2008/09/04/books/04perseus. html? _r=0 (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 8 Messieh, N (2011) ‘Does e-book piracy really matter? ’ , 24th June. Available at: http://thenextweb. com/media/2011/06/24/does-e-book-piracy-really-matter/ (Accessed 2nd December 2012) 9 unknown (2010) ‘The Rise in eBook Piracy’, October. Available at: http://www. attributor. com/data/php/research/234-the-rise-in-ebook-piracy. php (Accessed 2nd December 2012)