Megan McArdle on the Kindle and the Book:
The Kindle was only released in November of 2007, just three-and-a-half years ago. By 2009, Kindle book sales briefly surpassed print sales on the day after Christmas. In July of 2010, the eBook format overtook hardcovers, and six months later, it surpassed paperbacks.
Today, according to Amazon, eBooks have surpassed print books entirely; they are selling more Kindle editions than they are selling from all of their print formats combined. Since April 1st, they’ve sold 105 Kindle books for every 100 print editions.
She is not surprised and this is part of the reason why:
And like many Kindle owners, I’ve found that I buy more books than I used to. The impulse purchases are now completely irresistible: I can have the new memoir about someone’s dead tax cheat of a husband right this instant, rather than waiting two whole days . . . by which time, I’ll have forgotten about the Washingtonian excerpt that made me want to read it.
I’m pretty sure the print book’s days are numbered for anything except specialty applications. The die-hards will cling for a while, but ultimately, book buyers are already an extremely affluent group, and the convenience in acquiring, porting, and storing your library simply overwhelms the drawbacks, especially as Amazon has introduced innovations like eBook lending.
But wait, there is a tinge of melancholy:
… it will change a lot of the dynamics of life for book people. My first adult books were pulled from my parents’ giant trunk of mystery novels, and the shelves in their bedrooms–will there be a family Kindle account, and will they be able to control access to the juicy stuff? Peter and I are already wondering if we shouldn’t merge our Amazon account, but do I really want my archives cluttered up with his comic books and movie tomes? Does he want to have to scroll through a long line of trashy police procedurals? What will happen to the pleasures of pulling a random book from the shelves of a home where you are a weekend guest?
Not too worry, it was only momentary:
They’ll be replaced by other pleasures, like instant gratification. And it’s probably more gain than loss.
Or was it:
But I’m just a little bit sad, all the same.
Why do we feel compelled to ratify what are surely trivial pleasures, if pleasures at all, while suppressing our instinctive regret for the passing of deeper more substantives pleasures? This is not an indictment of the Kindle, nor a defense of the book. I’m just intrigued by the recurring “this is better, yes its better, it must be better it’s new and the old is passing, it must pass” feel that attaches to pieces like this. Who exactly is being convinced?
H/T to Mr. Greenwald for passing the McArdle post along.