My kids won’t be taking advantage of the sale at RVReviews.net this weekend. Neither will anyone who has spent their time at a sports event or concert recording the happenings while holding their phones aloft so they can bore their friends with it later. People who find themselves at loose ends when their iPad battery dies won’t be intrigued. Even if they were open to the novel experience of reading a printed book, chances are they’d find themselves flummoxed when they failed to find the On/Off switch.
Printed book devotees are still out there -approximately 40% of our sales still include a printed book- but they’re losing ground. A few years ago our sales for printed books versus e-books was 50/50. A few years before that and e-books comprised only 20% of sales.
As an editor at RVReviews.net I really have no preference for the format our readers choose. We sell our printed books for a bit more money, but they also come with printing and shipping costs. As the accountants say, it’s a wash.
But as a reader myself I miss bookstores. I miss the reassuring heft of a new book and the anticipation of strolling a bookstore via my own legs looking for the next great book. Perusing books via a swipe of the forefinger just isn’t the same.
I’ll admit I’m part of the problem, though. I have a laptop, an iPad and a mobile phone that all see daily use. I read and write and research and analyze every single day in front of a screen. Years ago we went through legal pads in our office like napkins at a Bar-B-Que joint. Today, I can’t remember the last time we even ordered legal pads.
I’m going to stop now. Some of you will understand what I’m saying, and some of you (my kids, for example), will think I just sound like a grumpy old guy carping about the good old days. I’m aware that printed books are going the way of the buggy whip and that I’m doing my share to hasten their departure.
But this weekend I’m going to stage a small protest and sell the printed version of our two best-selling books for LESS than the e-book version. I’m not quite delusional enough to think this will lead to a resurgence of printed books, but it will be kind of fun to claw back some sales from the e-books -even temporarily.