In Which i disagree with @elleinthecity, Borders closing, not the end of reading.

I love books, just ask anyone who knows me. I read a lot. I still have a wall of paper books I re-read from time to time, and I have my Kindle (and of course the various iOS Kindle apps!). Books are as a big a part of my life as anything else is. I thank my mom for bribing me to read and do book reports in exchange for new GI Joes.

It makes me truly sad that we’re losing Borders, that Powell’s had to lay-off some of it’s employees, but the reality is, it’s 2011. Books in their old form are making less and less sense. Publishers of course refuse to see this truth. Neither can places like Borders who chose to ignore eBooks.

Reading isn’t dying, books are. Paper books to be specific. Don’t get me wrong, that makes me sad too, i love the feel of a book in my hands. But time’s they are a changin’ and the smart money isn’t on fighting the future, it’s about embracing it.

Remember The Warehouse? Tower Records? They’re gone, music isn’t. Remember Hollywood Video? Blockbuster? They’re gone, movies aren’t.

It’s the same thing, every single time. Over and over again, we see posts like (not surprisingly written by someone in Publishing)┬áthis bemoaning the march of time, the march of technology as the greatest sin ever to be committed against society.

Publishing needs to see the writing (pun intended) on the wall, and adapt. Fighting this forward movement, is like fighting the tide. Just ask the CEO’s of Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Tower Records, et. al. Don’t fight your customers, don’t make adapting to the future something your customers have to make a “us or them” choice.

Yes a street without bookstores is a sad street. Let’s not be melodramatic either. Book stores like Borders will go away, used book stores, classic bookstores, will thrive, as they always have. Publishers, should be embracing technology, making people WANT to buy eBooks.

2 thoughts on “In Which i disagree with @elleinthecity, Borders closing, not the end of reading.

  1. Nick

    Plenty of people still buy vinyl records. We're fortunate enough to have several independent record stores in this state that still sell actual records. They're not going away. There is a market for that type of thing, the same as there will always be a market for physical books. The question is if retailers will accept this and scale accordingly, or if they want to be like Blockbuster.

  2. Ellen Gerstein

    Hi John…first, thanks for taking the time to respond to my post on your blog.

    You may be surprised to know that I am an avid supporter and advocate for electronic publishing – that wasn't really brought out in my post, because my main purpose was to talk about how the industry as a whole suffers when we lose outlets to sell books. One of those is certainly – no, the Kobo was never my favorite device, but it was a low cost ereader that offered a lot of free books, making it an excellent entry point into the ereader market (even tho it looks like stone tablet next to the nook.)

    I don't think printed books are going away in the next decade. Certainly the percentages between print and e sales will shift, but each format has their advantages and customers will require their content in a way that suits them best.

    I work for a publisher that is actively engaged in the ebook marketplace, both as conventional ebooks in the 3 main formats, as well as enchanced ebooks and books as apps. We're well aware there is a future there and we plan on being ready for it. Wiley's goal is to have our content anywhere and in whatever format the customer requires it.

    So, while I certainly hope that we can keep people engaged in the reading experience, I do hope you understand why I got a bit nostalgic about losing yet another pantheon for the printed word. I hope you can remember a time when you got immersed in bookstore, had a clerk recommend a book that made you think you had just read the best book ever written, or saw the eyes of a child light up after realizing the newest book from her favorite author was back in stock. For better or worse, it's a lot harder to have these experiences on an ereader or sitting in front of a computer screen. I think a little melancholy is called for in this circumstance, while still continuing to make sure our readers can find the works they need, whatever the form may be.

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