Publishing

Are e-books the future?

Literary agent Nathan Bransford knows his stuff when it comes to publishing, but apparently he knows the future too. On his blog, Bransford posted a message called “Why I’m Optimistic About the Future of Books” on Tuesday. Then today, TWICE.com, a website about the consumer electronics industry, has two stories showing Bransford might really have a crystal ball.

In “E-Book Readers May Become More Than a Niche,” TWICE reports that analysts believe that e-books and e-readers could have more than $1.2 billion in retail sales by 2010. The article details some of the nifty readers that are available now and coming soon.

And in “Barnes & Noble to Launch E-Book Store,” TWICE reports that the giant bookseller plans to sell e-books and has acquired e-book seller Fictionwise for $15.7 million.

When I was in journalism school — all those years ago — my teachers told us about digital newspapers and how they were going to replace newspapers in five years. Well, that didn’t happen (I have been out of college for more than five years). Although I admit that most of my news comes from the Web nowadays, newspapers are still around, although a lot thinner than they used to be.

Are e-books the future? Probably, but I would suspect that future is still many many years off. I don’t think kids will enjoy Goodnight Moon quite as well on a Kindle. And as environmentally friendly as I like to be, I have to say, there’s nothing quite like the feel of paper, lieing on a couch or in bed flipping pages of a book.

Ultimately, sure the industry is changing, but as Nathan Bransford said, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s most likely a good thing. Maybe we could get books on a Nintendo DS. And if kids get bored with their games — as if, but I’m hopeful — they could open a good story. (If you do this, Nintendo, I want a cut.)

Whatever happens, people will always need stories, no matter how they get them.

Write On!

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