Will e-books replace traditional books?
Over the past few years, e-books have become incredibly popular as more sophisticated devices are constantly developed, and a wider selection of books is available online. Perhaps the most widely known e-reader is the Amazon Kindle, introduced by Amazon in 2007. The Kindle has been a huge success, with more sales of Kindle books than Hardbacks by 2010, and more than Paperbacks by 2011, making Kindle the most popular way to read books from Amazon. Other rival companies such as Barnes & Noble, a US bookshop chain, have also released their own takes on the Kindle.
Not all companies have done well out of e-books, though. US bookshop chain Borders went bankrupt in 2011, and UK chain Waterstones was sold by HMV to A&NN Capital Fund Management due to declining sales. Both of these incidents have been labelled as the result of the increasing popularity of e-books.
The popularity of e-books is indeed very noticeable, as even on an hour’s commute to London I see countless people reading on Kindles and other similar devices, and a definite lack of physical books. I asked a few people what they thought of the future of e-books, and whilst on the whole everyone had, or knew someone who had, purchased an e-reader, but still strongly believed that there are plenty of people who like the look, smell, and feel of a traditional paper book. In favour of physical books, the point was raised that physical books can be passed on through generations, put away to read again later, and given to others to read afterwards. Physical books can also be taken anywhere without worry of loss or damage. Unless you had a very waterproof case, you wouldn’t want to lie on a lilo in a swimming pool, reading on an expensive tablet or e-reader. However, it was also suggested that, as younger generations grow up with e-readers, and there are families who solely use them, they may well become the norm, making physical books obsolete.
What do you think the future of books will be? Do you see physical books fading out completely, or remaining prominent? Will physical bookshops also fade out completely? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on the matter in the comments section below.