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Is traditional publishing endangered?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Black Dragon, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    When I was growing up music stores were everywhere. I remember saving up my allowance to buy the latest cassettes (later CDs) from my favorite artists.

    Now music stores are increasingly hard to find. The few that remain (in my area) sell more movies and video games than they do music. The advent of downloadable music changed everything.

    Is the same future in store for traditional publishing?

    Here in the U.S. Borders, the second largest bookstore chain, is closing all of its stores as we speak. Could we be entering an era in which ebooks become the dominant form of publishing?

    If so, is this necessarily a bad thing?
  2. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    I don't know what other people think or do about this, but for me, there's a vast difference between books and music.
    With music, buying it via the internet has plenty of advantages, but not many disadvantages I can think of at the moment. I can choose which songs I want to buy and don't have to take an entire CD or cassette where I don't like half or more of the songs on it and if I hear about a song I like I can get it without trouble. I can arrange my music in playlists or on CDs the way I like it and don't have to take what I'm given and it's easy to get non-mainstream-music which my local shop might not have.
    In this field, digitalisation is actually giving the customer more choices without taking anything from them.

    With books, it's a different matter, at least to me. It's much more comfortable to read something printed on paper than something on a brightly lit screen and books aren't nearly as easily destroyed as electronic gadgets. If I fall asleep with a book in my hand and it falls to the ground, it might look a bit tattered at most but still be perfectly readable. If I did this with my notebook or an E-reader it would probably be destroyed and everything saved on it as well.
    This wouldn't be a problem for books I have to read for university which I shouldn't do in bed anyway but for leisure time-books always being forced to use an electrical apparatus (and be close to an eletricity source to connect it to/load it) would be a great loss in pleasure. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to use something like that anywhere but on a desk.
    I don't see any advantages for the user in this, besides the fact that e-books stored on a computer don't need as much storage space.
  3. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    I don't think it is a bad thing, in fact I think it is a great thing. Electronic media is the future, and the sooner people accept that, the better.

    As far as losing stuff, it is just bits saved on a server. DRM is contrary to the flow of information, and is the old companies trying to use old ideas with new media. If you don't have your books in an open format, then that is the price you pay for playing by old media rules. This is one area where the pirates obtain a superior product.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  4. I am so torn on this topic.

    On one hand, I am enough of an environmentalist to realize the amount of paper saved could have a huge impact; however, I have no estimation as to the natural resources involved in developing all of the E-Readers and supporting devices. I also love the simplicity and ease of the E-Reader. We have a Kindle at home and LOVE it. We use it for all the books we are unsure about or don't want to own as part of our physical collection. As of right now, we probably have 50 books on the device and we also use it religiously to play Scrabble. Also also...there is a ton of savings involved in the long term. Just on those 50 books, we've saved at least $4-500, more than enough to buy the Kindle and then some.

    But, I grew up an avid reader and I worship my book collection. I love being surrounded by books, enjoying the cover art, smelling the paper, you name it. The ownership (physical not possessive) of a book is something an e-reader can simply not replace. But how many others feel the same as I?

    I do see a trend of bookstores closing and Kindle and Nook sales increasing. I don't think it will ultimately replace the hardcopy, just reduce that market dramatically...if it hasn't already.
  5. Donny Bruso

    Donny Bruso Sage

    I don't think that books will ever completely fade away, but I can easily see them following the same path as CD's have gone. I don't own a nook, kindle, whatever, for precisely one reason: They aren't pocket sized. That is what I demand in an E-reader. So instead, I downloaded the free kindle app for my phone, which IS pocket sized. I have not been to a bookstore since. Granted, I have a large stack of books on my coffee table screeching to be read, so it isn't necessary to go.

    But the convenience of just being able to tap the screen a few times and have the book available is great. Not sure on the cost savings, as two books I've purchased on it have been the same as a normal paperback would cost, and Dance with Dragons was like $15 instead of low 20's with my B&N card. But it saves trees, it saves gas, and allows me to always have a book at hand for those inconvenient times spent waiting in lines or other such tedious things.

    Also, I don't know is this is nationwide or just in Mass, but Borders is closing a ton of stores.
  6. Leuco

    Leuco Troubadour

    The printed word is in danger because people are reading less.

    Books are too expensive nowadays. $25 for a new release? When did that happen? Books used to be as much as a hamburger with some fries and a coke. I've bought some used books for a dollar that had a cover price of a quarter. Now it's $25? That's beyond inflation. How are poor folks supposed to read these books? That's a lot of people who will NEVER think of buying a new book simply because it's too expensive. Sad, but true.

    Reading is like healthy living. It's a luxury of the wealthy. Especially in this economy.

    Competition doesn't help either. Movies, video games, television, smart phones... there are too many distractions for the new generation. They've been raised by parents who don't enjoy reading. Kids don't want a kindle. They want something that lets them chat about themselves with their friends so they can create their own fantasy world without having to experience one. Heck, they don't even buy LP's anymore. They buy tunes. Single songs. They don't have the patience for a whole record. I doubt many will have the patience for a whole book.

    And the publishers make things worse by contracting the market. They only publish books that sell themselves and then jack up the price. It seems you need to have a movie deal before you even publish your first book. They want to cash in on the the motion picture banner. You know what I'm talking about. Everybody wants to be the guy who read the book before he saw the movie just so he could say the book was better. That's the only book they're comfortable publishing. Everything else is too risky.

    Electronic readers help both readers and authors in a lot of exciting ways, but I think the degeneration of cultural literacy is only going to get worse.

    Or not.

    I don't know. At least we still have some nice libraries, right?
    Soren likes this.
  7. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    My prediction is that printed books will also exist. Perhaps fewer OF them, sure. Reading an actual book as opposed to an ebook is, in my opinion, far more pleasant. Perhaps that difference won't have as much attraction for people who are raised mostly reading ebooks, though.

    There are practical reasons to have an actual, printed copy of a book though. No dependence on electrical power is one. For two, I know that at least one of the big ereaders (I think it's the Kindle, not entirely sure) has some rather insidious DRM uses - the company can literally erase books off your device. If I buy something, I want a guarantee that I will ALWAYS own it, and will in fact be able to access it from a multitude of devices.

    As a final note, I would like to point out that a large proportion of paper used today comes either from recycled paper or from farmed trees. The environmental impact of printing fewer books would probably be negligible.
    Amanita likes this.
  8. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    Borders is finished, kaput... and we are going to lose more. POD can make up for lack of shops and give people that want a physical book, with pretty covers and paper smell. Portable files and having the rights to read what we have purchased on any device we own or can access is essential I think. Paper books would be a luxury item.
  9. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Aie. That's one of my only real worries about the future of print, actually. POD at the moment generally delivers books of much lower quality, both in obvious things like cover design and also in things like sturdiness of binding and the ink they use. I hope that the quality of our printed books don't suffer too much.

    Also, poor Borders... was always my favorite book store. I live in Ann Arbor, where Borders was founded. Their original store is about ten minutes away. But not for long.
  10. I am of the opinion that there will always be books around. It will however become increasingly hard to find a specific title in book form. E-books will become the norm, just as e-mail, and e-music are more conventional today than their predecessors.
  11. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    Seriously? I wouldn't be prepared to pay any money for something under this condition. I have to admit that I'm not very inclined to paying money to read a story on my computer anyway. I'm just so used to get free fanfiction and other stuff put on the internet by people who don't want to make money of it that I wouldn't really see the point of paying without getting anything more out of it.
    If there really were only e-books availabe I might stop buying any fictional stories all together and just read what I've already got and try to make my own.

    And I'd still like to know which advantages e-books have got. Wouldn't some proponent of like to enlighten me? In the case of e-mails the benefits are obvious, in e-books, I don't see any. (Besides the fact that they don't need shelves.)
    Books require paper but e-readers require plenty of rare, hard to obtain raw materials such as rare earth metals which are mined under great harm to the environment and I assume that it would be "necessary" to buy a new one every year such as it is supposed to be with mobile phones.
  12. Kelise

    Kelise Maester

    We have a thread here talking about whether we like or dislike eBooks: http://mythicscribes.com/forums/chit-chat/99-i-just-got-kindle.html
  13. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    To make it worse, I think Animal Farm or 1984 was among the ones that were remotely deleted.
  14. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    I usually don't buy into conspiracy theories, but this... No comment.
  15. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    More ironic than conspiracy I think but still...
  16. Argentum

    Argentum Troubadour

    That's hilarious and sad at the same time. Fortunately, I know where a few copies of those books still exist in a used book store. I may have to go horde them just to make sure they don't get destroyed.

    Ebooks are handy I think, but there are a few bad things about them. For one thing, ever go on amazon to look for a book and see countless used books being sold for $1 or even less? And yet with the ebook, the prices stay the same. $1 for used, $15 for kindle version. No thanks. I went to a bookstore recently and went home with over 12 used books and not one of the books were over $5.20.

    A book is a hard copy almost and you can take it anywhere and you look smart reading it. No one can really tell what you're doing when you're holding an electronic nowadays. Could be watching a video, reading manga, playing a game, but when you're reading an actual book ... shnazzy. I think traditional publishing is in some deal of trouble ... why they probably also have to chop down book sizes. I went to the bookstore and found that the Sword of Shannara was now being sold as 4 separate books .... They publish smaller and smaller books. And personally, I don't like that because it's like the adventures are getting smaller and smaller and how could a small book possibly be good enough to waste 2 hours or less reading when I could dedicate a whole week to reading a book over 1,800 pages? In danger, yes, but not quite ready for exstinction.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  17. Kevlar

    Kevlar Troubadour

    If real books ever disappear what will I do for three weeks while camping? Sure, the first few hours..
  18. fete67

    fete67 Dreamer

    I wish it was not the truth that books will be harder to find but inevitably I believe that they will mostly go extinct. Hopefully in the future we will be able to find craftsmen who will write and copy books in elaborate fashionable leather bindings, sort of like the olden day monks. That would make reading for me very enjoyable.
  19. Theankh

    Theankh Scribe

    I like traditional publishing. I guess e-publishing is a nice novelty but I stare at a screen all day as it is, I've no desire to do it when I'm trying to relax with a book :)

    Plus, books are atmospheric. I like the smell of my older books, the ones that are well loved. Whereas I've got no affection for the musk of dead batteries :p
  20. pskelding

    pskelding Troubadour

    IMHO Ebooks are here to stay and will dominate sales going forward.

    Printed books I think will be become more of a collector's item or souvenir for fans. I can't see the average reader owning more than a few. I can see a serious fan having a whole library but instead of reading each printed copy they will have read the ebook. Quite a few authors including Michael Stackpole have been saying this for a few years now.

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