Why E-Books Are Like Automobiles: Post 4 #ebookweek

13 Mar

The Car & Horse on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

I was just reading this article, Will E-Books Peak Soon?, and thought how this must be the same kind of thing you heard when the automobile was first invented.

“Never mind the phenomenal growth, or the fact that more and more models of horseless carriage appear every year. It won’t last.”

“Horse are loyal. More people ride horses than drive cars. People don’t like change.”

“Cars are too complicated.”

“You don’t have to get out and crank up your horse.”

“You get emotional satisfaction sitting up on your horse for a nice invigorating ride to work.”

I’m sure it was all true. I’m sure I would find a horse more emotionally satisfying than I do my car. The fact is, I just can’t go all the places I need to go on any given day by  horse.  And while the earliest cars had their glitches and shortcomings, they took over the transportation market because the technology kept improving and there was no denying they did the job better.

Scrolls replaced stone tablets, machine printed books replaced hand written books, and I can see digital print is already looking like the better option for newspapers and magazines. Books are the last hold out.  Will they stomp these e-book upstarts into the ground?

When was the last time you saw a hitching post?

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4 Responses to “Why E-Books Are Like Automobiles: Post 4 #ebookweek”

  1. char March 14, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    I don’t think that ebooks will peak soon.more and more really great books are being made into ebooks If the prices of ebooks and ebook readers would come down just little bit,more people would buy them.

  2. Walt Shiel March 14, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    As I stated in the blog post you referenced in the first line above, I do not see the e-book/p-book issue as an either-or proposition. Both forms will coexist for the foreseeable future, as each has peculiar strengths and weaknesses.

    Also, I was clearly talking about a peaking of the explosive growth of e-books and not a peaking in the actual number of books sold. E-book sales will certainly continue to increase but the growth RATE will reach a peak at some point, probably within the next 18-24 months. Then it will settle into a much lower, but more sustainable, rate.

    No matter what you do to e-books or how you format them or what doodads you add to them, no format or reading device will match the overall usability and user-friendliness of the codex.

    By the way, anyone who thinks a print book represents low tech is merely exposing their own lack of knowledge of the publishing business.

  3. naramalone March 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    @char The price will come down and the quality will improve. It just takes time.

    @Walt I would also say that manufacturing a horse would require a higher level of technology than manufacturing a car. Understanding the complexity of the process to create something does nothing to change its limitations. And a book that comes when called, a quote that comes when called, is more useful. Honestly, do you still look up words in a printed dictionary or use the old printed encyclopedias?

  4. Beth C. March 15, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    I actually have a hitching post in my yard. It was there when I bought the place. 🙂

    I hope ebooks never make print books disappear. I learned that lesson a couple years ago. Ebooks have one major flaw. They are power dependent. We had a 6 day power outage because of a wind storm. Without a good supply of print books there would have been three very crazy individuals in our house.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love ebooks. The variety of genres and authors, the lower cost, the ability to buy whenever you want. But, on the flip side, I will never give up print books.

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