I have long since struggled against buying a Kindle: a huge part of me hates the idea of buying one on principle, because reading always has been an experience for me, and part of that includes the act of physically holding a paperback. The other part of me thought it would be a sensible choice for my course as a lot of the older, copyright-free books are free. I occasionally stole my Mum’s Kindle for a week if I knew I had to read a book last minute and didn’t have chance to go and physically buy a copy.
However, I recently read an interesting article about the fact that the eBook business may be in decline. A lot of the quotes were obtained, admittedly, from the founder of Waterstone’s, so it doesn’t take a genius to suggest that he might have a slight vested interest, but also there were some genuinely interesting figures. As the Telegraph reported in said article, ‘in 2013, British consumers spent £300 million on 80 million e-books compared with £2.2 billion on 323 million physical books.’ Now that’s a big difference in my book, if you’ll excuse the pun.
The article went on to describe that trends have been seen in America. In the past 12 months, according to statistics release by the Association of American Publishers, eBook sales have risen just 4.8% compared to its hardcover counterpart, rising 11.5%. Not only have book sales risen, but brand new hardcover books, suggesting that there is something people still like about having a book on their shelf.
Technology is constantly changing, and it seems that as there are trends with tablet computers, laptops and phones, eBooks are not immune as a certain section of people once thought. I do think that the potential is there to expand. Publishers have scarcely explored the avenues of adding in interactive content such as embedded videos, and I personally feel, even as someone slightly anti-eBooks, that they are missing out on something which could potentially make reading an even more interactive act than it already is.
In one of my creative writing sessions at uni, we had writer Richard House come in to talk to us, and his book ‘The Kills’ sat on the table. It is a tome in itself, but is best enjoyed, as he explained, in eBook form, because of the additional content which includes videos and other online additional content. If eBooks are to survive and not be thrown onto the pile of technology that didn’t quite take off, like those goofy Google glasses, then they need to offer something more than just words on a different kind of page.