When will E-Books spell the Death of The Book Store?

It’s not a question of ‘will’ e-books spell the death of the book store but ‘when’. In Christmas of 2009, the early adopters took the dive. This past Christmas (2010) statistics show that the e-book is one of the most sought after gifts of the season and publishers are expecting January to be a big month in e-book sales as new e-book owners load up on titles.

From The New York Times: Christmas Gifts May Help E-Books Take Root

As much as the industry hates to draw parallels to the music business, the similarities are there and the speed at which the bricks and mortar businesses in music fell was startling. Unfortunately the same will happen here. Have you been into a Barnes & Noble lately? It’s like walking into a large restaurant that only has a few customers lurking about.

The truth is more folks are reading on e-book devices, while those that had already been using an e-book, are reading more books. I bought into the idea myself around the time of Kindle’s second device. The first Kindle version being too clunky and I was still holding onto the quaint idea of turning physical pages and telling people how I loved the smell of paper…I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time. Once you dive in, the benefits are endless:

1. Never having to lug around more than ‘one’ light ‘book’.
2. Not having to decide which book to take on a trip as you can simply take them all.
3. The ability to easily find any phrase or paragraph across all of your books in an instant when the moment of sharing inspires you.
4. Being able to highlight or save searcheable notes across all of your titles.
5. Having access to a clipping file of those highlights and notes on your PC in order to be able to use them for personal research or studying.
6. See what others who have read the same book find interesting.
7. Sharing what inspires you with your family and friends on Facebook directly from the e-book…
8. Being able to browse and purchase books on the go without having to visit a bookstore.
…the list goes on.

Convenience is not the only good news. This may very well spell the rebirth of the small, local bookstore. Not for fiction or non-fiction reading, but for art books, photography, or kids pop-up and craft books. I suspect these have a way to go before they become digitized or before we are ready to give them up all together. As Tower Records crumbled, think of the rebirth of the record store, for those who still love Vinyl. I put the large stores survival at end of 2012 on the outside.

We need to remember that technology advancements used to move more slowly, giving us time to adapt with major changes coming only once or twice in every generation. This is no longer true with major shifts happening every 3-5 years, with the pace of change increasing all the time. The Toffler’s had it right with ‘Future Shock’, only they were a bit early. The irony of it all is that their title is not yet available as an e-book.

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