There’s a lot of e-book buzz about Jeff Gomez and his new book, Print Is Dead. From the introduction to Print Is Dead:
“While print is not yet dead, it is undoubtedly sickening. Newspaper readership has been in decline for years, magazines are also in trouble, and trade publishing (the selling of novels and non-fiction books to adults primarily for entertainment), has not seen any substantial growth for years. More and more people are turning away from traditional methods of reading, turning instead to their computers and the Internet for information and entertainment. Whether this comes in the form of getting news online, reading a blog, or contributing to a wiki, the general population is shifting away from print consumption, heading instead to increasingly digital lives.”
I may be an e-book evangelist but I wouldn’t dream of saying print is dead. For now and the foreseeable future the handheld reader of choice is called the book. Or p-book (p for print) as opposed to e-book. Or, as some refer to it, “book-book” to distinguish it from virtual versions. For all our valiant endeavors to produce an electronic reader, nothing matches the elegant form and functionality of the printed book. E-Reads’ sales confirm it: despite the ease of downloading our titles, fifty percent of our revenue comes from the sale of print copies.
What is dead is the old way of distributing books, in mechanical vehicles to brick and mortar vendors. Bookstores, even the fabulous giant Barnes & Noble chain, are dead stores walking. The day that the print on demand press was introduced (summer of 1998), the bookstore beast took a shot to the gut. Boast though they may about sales B&N and other book chains are mortally wounded and it’s just a matter of time before they hemorrhage to death. The good news? Before you can say Rest in Peace, a new, healthier, more profitable and infinitely more efficient distribution model will take its place. I’m happy to say I prophesized it in 1992. Nobody listened then. Maybe they’ll listen now.