On September 10, The Economist published the article “Great digital expectations” discussing the consumer shift from print to digital books:
In the first five months of this year sales of consumer e-books in America overtook those from adult hardback books. Just a year earlier hardbacks had been worth more than three times as much as e-books, according to the Association of American Publishers. Amazon now sells more copies of e-books than paper books.
As someone who reads an average of three books a week, I have embraced digital books and advocate their use for numerous uncluttered reasons. First, my library allows me to check out digital books for free using their Overdrive service. (Yours probably does, too.) Not all digital books are available this way, but I still use this service a great deal for research and books I wouldn’t usually buy. And, I can download the books at home and skip the drive to the library. Second, digital books are usually less expensive than print books because you’re only paying for the content not the paper and binding and ink. This keeps more money in my wallet, which I like, and saves a few trees (although the components in my digital book reader probably aren’t super environmentally friendly). Third, digital books keep physical books from cluttering up and overwhelming my bookshelf. I love having books in the house, especially children’s books for my son to read, but my house is a home, not a library. I don’t need all books on display. Fourth, and this is my favorite benefit, my digital reader weighs the same if I choose to carry one book or three dozen books with me at a time. I can read whatever book fits my mood, without having to lug around multiple physical books in a bag.
That being said, I still acquire a lot of books in print. Any book that isn’t available in digital form that I want to read, travel books, children’s books, and cookbooks still end up in my house. These come in on a one-in-one-out basis, however, as I am out of bookshelf space.
Speaking of bookshelves, not only are publishers responding to consumers desiring digital books, but so are bookshelf manufacturers:
Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read.
As a way to curb book clutter, have you made the switch (or a partial switch) to digital books? Could a digital book reader help you to get an out-of-control book collection down to a more meaningful size? As someone who consumes a ridiculous number of books a year, digital books have certainly saved space in my home and office, as well as kept some money in my pocketbook. (FYI: I primarily use a Kindle, but for library downloads I use my laptop since they’re usually research related.) Are you surprised to learn that Amazon sells more digital books than print books? What might be keeping you from making the switch to a digital reader?
Check out the full article.