What happened to the Death of Print Books?


 “Two years ago print was going to soldier on another 10 years. Now it’s five–or fewer.”
From ‘A View from Christopher Mims’ – MIT Technology Review, August 23, 2010 – Predicting the Death of Print

This is what experts were saying about the future of print books as little as 8 years ago, even at none other then the heart of technology in this country, MIT.


It would have seemed that prediction was a no-brainer with the growth of Kindle and the launch of the iPad. And yet, like every other prediction about the death of the printed book (radio, television and DVDs were going to reduce it to a mere curiosity) people find that holding a book in one’s hand a singular pleasurable experience that cannot be undone by any technology.


If I were to tell you 8 years ago that physical home music, physical home videos, and especially physical video gaming were just transitional technology that was doomed as much as the 8 track tape cartridge, would you have believed me? Probably not. So here’s the proof:

Printed books remain special, despite the fact that major bookstores are closing all over the place. Sure it’s easy to buy a book online, but that takes away the pleasurable experience of browsing and stumbling across something you never would have found otherwise. Amazon and other online platforms make suggestions, sure, but that’s relying on a bot to determine what it thinks you’d like to read. The enchantment of perusing a bookstore simply cannot be digitalized.


Here are some of the reasons people still cherish the printed book (gleaned from publishing pundits and publications):

“But there's something about print that I can't give up. There's something about holding a book in your hand and the visceral act of physically turning a page that, for me at least, can't be matched with pixels on a screen.”
~ Josh Catone
"Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel."
~ Craig Mod
“Books as physical objects matter to me, because they evoke the past. A Métro ticket falls out of a book I bought 40 years ago, and I am transported back to the Rue Saint-Jacques on Sept. 12, 1972, where I am waiting for someone named Annie LeCombe. A telephone message from a friend who died too young falls out of a book, and I find myself back in the Chateau Marmont on a balmy September day in 1995. A note I scribbled to myself in "Homage to Catalonia" in 1973 when I was in Granada reminds me to learn Spanish, which I have not yet done, and to go back to Granada “
~ Joe Queenan
"I think print and paper has a lasting value that people appreciate. Pixels are too temporary," said Praveen Madan, an entrepreneur on the Kepler's 2020 team, via email. Madan and his cohorts are attempting to reinvent the business model for independent bookstores, including ways to sell and offer services around e-books. "Books have been around for a very long time and people have a deeper relationship with some books than most digital content," 
~ Praveen Madan
“Printed books are for people who love printed books. Digital books are for those who love digital books,"
~ Brian Haberlin

Maybe it's just that simple!


As head of a company that interacts with all facets of the publishing industry, I have often heard whispers of doubts about the future of print books. Being a bibliophile myself, I could never imagine not being able to hold a book in my hands. So, when I came across some statistics that show my fears to be unfounded, I thought I’d share it with everyone in the hopes that it brightens your day as much as it has mine.

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