We have all heard about the shift that has occurred over the past several years in how people read. More and more people are setting aside their “old” paperback or hardback books in favor of digital e-books that they read on a computer, tablet, smartphone, or, perhaps most common, an e-reader. This shift may have just received a major boost of adrenaline.
Barnes & Noble CEO William J. Lyons, Jr. recently was interviewed and told a reporter for Bloomberg News that he no longer reads physical books. Instead he prefers the more modern concept when it comes to reading.
“I don’t read physical books anymore,” Lyons said. “I like to read digitally. My wife is reading a lot of physical books.”
This public statement from the owner of a giant in the American corporate landscape is a bit curious. Although B&N has made no bones about the fact that it emphasizes digital reading, the company still takes in far more revenue on its print book sales than on its e-readers and e-books. In Q3 (third quarter) of 2012, B&N brought in about $1.1 billion in physical book sales through its store locations and its online store. As for the Nook and digital content, the company made $192 million, up only $1 million from a year prior to this figure in Q3 of 2011.
On the textbook front, more publishers are offering a greater number of digital e-textbooks as each semester goes by. Many students have jumped on the wave of learning digitally, but there has been research done to show that a large contingency of students still prefer using traditional textbooks for their classes. The main reasons mentioned by students for this is that physical textbooks are much easier to mark up, highlight, and take notes in. Doing so on a digital e-textbook like a PDF file may be impossible due editing restrictions that often get put on these kinds of files. In addition, students can re-sell used paper textbooks once they are done with them to recoup some of their money to buy more books for the upcoming semester. Re-selling digital textbooks is essentially not an option whatsoever.
Whether you fully agree with Lyons, the B&N CEO, or you are totally against his thinking and still maintain a large collection of paperbacks, this debate will likely continue for years to come. There may be a day when books as we’ve known them to exist are no longer around. But until the masses can all agree that e-books are the way to go, regular books will always exist.