Monday, October 12, 2009

The Beginning of the End for Books?

ooh, burn! Reuters reports that the writing looks to be  on the wall for printed books, and unfortunately for publishers the wall is a digital wall that lots of people can see on the Internet for free.

The main thrust of the article is that the increasing success of e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and the Google Books project are putting the squeeze on traditional printing presses, forcing them to confront many of the same demons as printed newspapers and magazines.

There will always be those who prefer the printed word on the physical page, but as with the people who buy CDs so they can look at the artwork, they will inevitably become the minority as digital media continues its unstoppable march (projections say sales of digital music will outstrip CD sales as early as next year).

In addition to Amazon’s sizable online bookstore, Barnes and Noble (one of the nation’s largest booksellers) offers many new releases as digital downloads and is believed to be working on its own e-reader to compete with the likes of the Kindle and iPod Touch.

So, bookish readers, what do you think? This is too big a topic to be covered in a week of features, let alone one small brief, in part because it’s such a polarizing topic. Among peoples’ chief concerns are the ever-present shadows of DRM and oversight – Amazon caught a lot of flack earlier this year for removing several digital titles (including, ominously, George Orwell’s Animal Farm) from customers’ Kindles without their knowledge or permission.

Sound off in the comments section, would you kindly?