Real books are having something of a resurgence with sales climbing while e-reader profits dwindle. There’s plenty of speculation as to why.
Subscription services have taken a chunk of profit from e-books?
People are downloading less commercial books instead of expensive digital releases?
The novelty has worn off?
Whatever the business sense, I think the truth is simpler, they just don’t enrich our lives. E-readers offer slightly more convenience, but not anymore enjoyment. This could prove fatal in a society that values experiences over ownership.
We spend our money on weekends away and days out. All whilst operating more frugally, (most of the time,) renting and borrowing instead of buying. There has been a move towards small indulgences over larger investments. All of which makes e-readers at odds with our current lifestyles.
Books fit perfectly into our moment to moment mentality. They offer us an opportunity to experience reading in a tangible way. We pass copies on to our friends. Buy them for ourselves as an affordable luxury. Find old books we haven’t got around to reading and take them out for coffee. We thrive on these smaller moments and they give us the opportunity to interact away from a screen. This is worth its weight in gold and retailers know it.
You can pass or fail a business on the basis of whether it offers customers more than just a product. This thinking in our shops, magazines and advertising but it isn’t built into the design of our e-books. They need to be social without being invasive, interactive without being distracting and offer us more than what we already have in our libraries. The technology exists and we use it in other forms daily. Imagine if you could tag your friends on certain chapters, so when they’re reading you can warning them of the trauma ahead. You could finish a book and digitally fling it to someone else, letting them know why you think it’s brilliant. You could have an interactive library that allows certain people to pick up your books and read them. There’s the opportunity to develop the e-reader in new and fantastic ways all whilst seizing back some of that market share. The question is will manufacturers adapt, or could this be the beginning of the end for the e-reader?
What features would you love to see?
Do you have one and love it?
If not what would sway you to change your allegiance?
Let me know in the comments!