Sure everyone is talking about the rapture, but if there’s any tangible sign that the apocalypse may, in fact, be upon us, try this one on for size – Amazon announced May 19th that its customers now buy more e-books for its Kindle device than all print books — hardcover and paperback — combined.
According to Mashable, since April 1, for every 100 print books Amazon has sold — including paper books for which there are no Kindle books available — it has sold 105 Kindle books.
You know what that means? Total digital media domination!
Ok, I exaggerate…a bit.
The history of book production is a fuzzy one as it depends upon what you deem “a book”. Papyrus scrolls were used in Ancient Egypt as far back as the First Dynasty. That said the deeper one looks at the history of books – from printing on papyrus to wax tablets, to bamboo scrolls, parchment to woodblock printing to the more recent letter press – the clearer it becomes that documenting the written word has always been an evolving process.
This latest shift to reading books on digital tablets is a natural progression of the evolution of the book. While library lovers may bemoan the fact that a digital book is outselling their favorite hard copies, let’s take a look at the benefits to readers who use Kindles, iPads and Nooks.
For one thing, according to a recent NYTimes story profiling writer Susan Orlean, authors of Kindle Singles (one-off pieces of non-fiction and journalism which are typically much shorter than a novel, but longer than a magazine article) “typically keep 70 percent of the revenues, while the remaining 30 percent goes to Amazon — a much more attractive revenue split than mainstream publishers offer.”
These pieces of long-form journalism have in the past, not been able to find a home in magazines. In fact, Wired writes, “It seems ironic that the web, along with cellphones and other portable computers, has saved the very thing we thought it would kill.”
Plus, the writer benefits with a larger cut of the profit – a huge boon for your struggling freelancer.
In addition, tablet readers benefit from storing multiple stories on one light weight device. Think of the opportunity that provides? With all those books at ones finger tips, any free moment is a perfect time for some reading. Perhaps some are a bit too concerned with the method by which we receive the information and less about the quality of the information itself.
For those that love a good book in hand, this tablet revolution can feel a bit alarming, but literacy proponents should feel encouraged. Look at it this way, when Amazon reports that people are no longer buying books at all, then we’ll be concerned. For now, let’s just be happy people are still reading.