One Writer's Thoughts on e-books, and Bad News from Powell's Bookstore

On the same page located on shelfawareness.com, a wonderful quote by an author sums up my feelings, and probably many other booklovers, to a tee. Right below this piece is the news about the big and wonderful independent bookstore in Portland OR, USA, Powells, who has had to lay off 30 workers over the past months. The management sited less sales due to e-books. Is this really the end game for ‘real’ books? If so,  I’m not ridding my home of another book. Usually after reading something that I don’t feel I need to re-read, I donate it to the library, or trade it in to a used bookshop for credit for more books.  No more. I’m beginning to feel like a character in Fahrenheit 451. Next, people will be breaking into my home to seize the hard and softcovers I’ve stashed all over the establishment. Except for the latter, I’m afraid the future is bleak in terms of  traditional, ick, how I hate that term, publishing. The implications are so far reaching, I can’t fathom them. How will authors be compensated, when their books are being sold for a pittance compared to the normal sum for the printed word? How will the industry safeguard replication of a book? We see how movies are copied, music is downloaded unlawfully, what makes anyone think this won’t happen with books?

We know Oprah just loves loves loves her kindles and ibooks and whatevers. And we all accept she’s the arbiter of great literature and memoirs, right?  So, her obedient followers march in tune and now read via electronics. The surge in booksales she brought to the publishing world will be replaced with e-book sales. Eliminating millions of physical books. And she’s just one large chunk of the reading public.

I hope against hope my vision of a future without new solid bound books in hand is wrong. But I’ve seen Star Trek The Next Generation, and Picard has an artifact from the past under glass. The written word with pages, and print, and binding, and covers. This book survived–after all is is Shakespeare–imagine where all the others not as revered disappeared too?

The link to both stories:

http://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=1387#m11439

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  1. wazz

    *Correction*
    Powell’s Books is in Portland, OR. It is an institution here, and our city will suffer incalculably if it goes under.

    1. Diane Plumley

      Duh! I had a brain spasm there–so sorry, and THANK you so much for correcting it. I fervently hope for all of us, Powell’s stays afloat.

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