Hardwick Essay 2

Essay 2: Print vs. eDigital

Introduction

When Amazon released the Kindle, eBooks boomed. Although eBook readers were in existence already, it wasn’t until this time that people in the publishing industry really started to worry about the future of print books. Would print be extinguished? What would they need to do to adjust their marketing and sales platform? How would this effect how books are written? Many articles in publishing journals, newspaper magazines, and blogs pondered these questions, and here we will do the same. Examining many sources, we will delve into this world of eBooks and try to emerge with coherent answers.

eBooks vs. Print

eBooks or print books, which will triumph? It is a little more complicated then who will “win” by surviving. eBooks have changed the publishing market, the way some authors write, and no one can really tell who will prevail except perhaps those who have ventured into the future with a time machine. Let’s examine this more closely.

Market

So what is happening to the publishing market with eBooks on the rise? Dr. Arnie Grossblatt, Professor at George Washington University Publishing Masters program gives an optimistic view of the publishing industry, but makes it clear that the market dollar focus is shifting. There is still about $40 billion dollars to be had in the print book business for both consumer and professional markets, but web and eBook technology represents approximately $362 billion dollars. Clearly this huge swing is ground-breaking. One article by Jason Epstien, from The New York Review of Books, discusses how eBooks are doing for publishing what the Guttenburg press did by revolutionizing the world. Both Dr. Grossblatt and Epstien agree that what it means to be a publisher is changing. With eBooks, Blogs, and even phone novels in Japan, anyone can be a publisher and most of us are. The market is overflowing with more amateur novels then before, the Blog-o-sphere is continually expanding, and new literary media are developing with the advanced capabilities of eReaders like the iPad. Reader’s abilities, wants, and expectations are changing, therefore the market is changing to adapt and survive.

Writing

Many eBook providers now allow books to be ‘previewed’ by giving the reader access to the first chapter. If they like the book and wish to continue reading they may purchase it, if not they can continue browsing to their hearts content. This means authors will now have to hook readers in the first chapter to get them to purchase their book. Will first chapters as a result become more exciting and suspense filled rather than the sometimes slow traditional plot set up? We haven’t seen this free chapter feature really affecting many famous authors style of writing, but this might affect new authors trying to break into the market. Also with the capability of providing extra content will authors need to ‘step-up’ their game in order to give readers what they want? We saw the release of David Baldacci’s book ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ which included not just the final edited text but an alternate ending, and pictures with links to sites about where he obtained inspiration. Most readers complained about the higher price for the eBook, but some enjoyed the extras. One reviewer compared it to the Directors cut on a DVD. From what I observe the extra content is enjoyed, but will probably be most effective from a marketing standpoint if it was optional for an additional price. I imagine that these other capabilities will be utilized and appreciated with eTextbooks, and eBooks for children, but as for traditional books for adults they find it isn’t worth the raise in price unless you really want it. If the additional price decreases, and the extra content becomes more expected and appreciated by readers, I imagine that these capabilities will affect the way authors write and how much content they will be expected to provide.

Lifetime

So will eBooks take over and kill print books? We will not really know unless we hop aboard the DeLorean time machine with Dr. Brown and check out the future, but looking at past experiences most experts say no. We romanticize about print books like some people do about vinyl records. There is something about holding a book in your hand and feeling the pages that we literally don’t want to let go of. Of course there are purists on both sides, those who refuse to read print now, and those who refuse to read digital books. But many people I have encountered are somewhere in between and consider themselves ‘mixed media’. They enjoy the convenience of digital texts, but still like their favorites in hardback. Will this change with younger generations being raised on eBooks? Dr. Grossblatt believes that books will become a less popular market like CD’s instead of MP3’s but will probably always exist. I imagine it will continue to exist as long as there is some demand for it, and until there is no generation in the world who needs to feel a text in print, books will continue to be produced though on a smaller scale. One day it’s true books may become antique treasures rather then what everyone has on their shelves and coffee tables, but as of right now we don’t need to worry about them going completely extinct.

Children’s eBooks

With the emergence of Harry Potter into the world, the children’s book publishing industry has been recognized as a real money maker. Most eBook articles focus on the adult audience with the Kindle, but with the emergence of the iPad eBooks for children were able to make a big leap as well.

Reluctant Readers

The eBook technology opens new doors for children’s books as well as adult books. Nowadays you can find many children’s eBooks available that include extra features that print books are just not capable of. For example Dr. Grossblatt, experienced a ‘3D’ Alice in Wonderland eBook which reacted with the reader’s movement. In the tea party scene, where the Mad Hatter, Alice, and March Hare are all sitting at a long table for tea, the reader can shake the iPad and watch as all the items on the table are shaken an fall off the table. In another book, Miss Spider’s Tea Party, young readers can paint in the illustrations themselves. With all of the extra capabilities it’s not hard for young readers, or reluctant readers to be attracted to the literary world. In a Willy Wonka sense, the public is wondering ‘What will they think of next?’ We already know video, and internet link capabilities are available for ebooks. Perhaps young readers in the future will be able to touch any animal in a picture and be directed to a zoo website with not only information about it, but a live webcam of the animal in the zoo. An analyzing the numbers in terms of children’s eBook sales, since the release of the iPad, sales have skyrocketed. Most say it is because it is the first interactive eBook that children can enjoy while sitting in their parent’s laps. It seems obvious then that with the new possibilities and interactivity, children are being introduced to a new medium of reading which will facilitate a greater passion for the literary experience.

eBook’s Eco Friendly?

One of the new fad’s is going back to green or more natural products. We can see this with reusable grocery bag promotions, and new ‘green’ cleaners. This eco-friendly vibe extends into the eReader market while consumers debate whether purchasing a Kindle or iPad would be more planet savvy then buying your books one by one. There have been articles over the past two years discussing whether Kindle or the iPad are really ‘greener’ then reading a regular book. Most articles are clear that the actual development of an eReader is always much more harmful to the environment then the development of a book, but their sustained use instead of print books can be more environmentally friendly depending on how many eBooks you actually read. According to New York Time’s Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris, it would take 30 to 50 eBooks on an iPad to justify the tablet creation on a green scale. These numbers are also based on general technical information they could amass, because Apple like most eReader developers have been very reluctant to admit fully what is used in their devices (Similar to other trade secrets, like the formula for Coke, or the sauce on a BigMac). Recycling of the actual eReader device is also an issue of concern for green experts. The Kindle helped work with this issue by offering a battery recycle program, but what is going to happen when your Kindle is worn beyond repair? Sadly, as of right now there is no program in place for how to dispose of dilapidated eReaders, but considering they have not been out for too very long, one would hope your Kindle or iPad is not currently falling apart from use. After looking over the information it seems to me that for avid readers an eBook reader would be a greener investment, especially if you include replacing your daily print newspapers with the eTechnology as well. But for readers who consume few books a year, purchasing the print editions would really work out to be more eco friendly, especially if you got them from your library.

Knowledge Management: Print vs. Digital

The knowledge management phenomenon is a construct developed by most business as a way to record knowledge and manage it so that it may benefit others in their firm or business. This also includes in a broader spectrum how to manage marketing information from places like Facebook and translate it into workable information for advertisers like Google Adds. The digital media in the sense of storing information and capturing knowledge has become easy. You can do anything from make a how-to video on YouTube, write a blog, update a Wikipedia article, comment on picture, review a dress, or ask a question and receive an answer about your cat’s unusual behavior. This information on the internet translates to knowledge easier than ever before. With print it is harder to achieve the same results because it is a one way connection often with only one subject. For example a printed recipe book can be helpful, but what if something goes wrong while you are creaming the butter, or you are adapting the recipe to feed more people? The printed book media can only provide the original information it was printed with, whereas an online recipe may have a comment area for people to add suggestions about how to properly whisk meringue, or toast almonds in an easier way. In terms of eBooks and digital knowledge management capabilities, I think they are vastly superior to print knowledge, but I think it is a different ball park when considering the previous topics in this essay of more story based literature. I would enjoy reading from an eTextbook for my geology class where I could click on a word and look it up online immediately, or click on an image to find out more about volcanoes in Peru, but I would certainly prefer to read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters in paperback rather than on a black and white Kindle screen.

Conclusion

For better or worse, eBooks are changing the industry and market. Writing for actual books may adapt too as new technology develops and new authors emerge. But eBooks will not take over print books completely, at least not within my lifetime. I am excited though to see how eBooks will change the children’s market as the definition of a children’s book and it abilities change. For new young readers will definitely be drawn in when books can interact with them on another level. With the movement towards a ‘greener’ world, eReader’s development is lacking like most other technologies but they pay off in carbon footprint if you are an avid reader and consume books often. Also in terms of knowledge management the digital knowledge provided by eText and the internet is far superior to knowledge limited by print, but literary storylines are a different matter entirely. Overall the eBook vs. print battle will continue to wage, but I hope this essay has helped you find a few answers about what is really going on.

Sources

Collier, James, and Everyone Attending Class. "Information Knowledge Management Class." Virginia Tech, Shanks, Blacksburg. Spring Semester 2010. Lectures.

"Eco-Libris | E-Books vs. Physical Books." Eco-Libris: Plant a Tree for Every Book You Read. Web. 11 May 2010. <http://www.ecolibris.net/ebooks.asp>.

Epstein, Jason. "Publishing: The Revolutionary Future." The New York Review of Books 11 Mar. 2010. Archives. Web. 03 Mar. 2010.

Ermelino, Louisa. "PW's Panel on Going from Book to E-Book." Publishers Weekly 3 Mar. 2010.PW Daily. Web. 3 Mar. 2010.

Goleman, Daniel, and Gregory Norris. "How Green Is My IPad?" The New York Times. Opinion, 4 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 May 2010. <http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html>.

Grossblatt, Dr. Arnie. Personal interview. 16 Apr. 2010.

Rev. of Deliver Us From Evil, by David Baldacci. Amazon. Web. 11 May 2010. <http://www.amazon.com/Deliver-Us-Evil-Special-ebook/dp/B003HHQ13I>
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Springen, Karen. "The IPad Meets the Children's Book." Publishers Weekly. 08 Apr. 2010. Web. 11 May 2010. <http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/42762-the-ipad-meets-the-children-s-book.html>.

*Please Note: These are my main sources of information that I cited during my essay. But realistically I have examined many other articles pertaining to this topic in my spare time which may have influenced my opinions and results. It is impossible for me to list them all because not only do not remember them all but there would be a lot of them.

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