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Old 01-24-2014, 06:37 PM   #1
Katsunami
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My mama said: "In 10 years, those will be gone."

This evening I visited my mom. I had my e-reader with me (because travelling by public transport) and put it on the table upon entering. Somewhat later, she picked it up, swiped a few pages right and left, closed it and put it down again. My mama said (© ABBA):

"It's a pity you gave away all your books. You know, everybody I know still wants paper books. In 10 years, these things (waving the reader upon putting it down) will be all gone."

There's only a teeny tiny difference between my mom and me: I know computers and technology, while she's (almost) a technophobe. She can do basic computer stuff such as e-mail (no internet banking, online shopping, or whatever), and she has a smartphone running Whatsapp ("Everybody quit on MSN and nobody wants to send texts anymore!"), but apart from calling, texts, taking pictures and Whatsapp, every conceivable function on the phone is disabled / blocked.

Also, she reads... like... 4-6 books a year, if it's a very good year. I read between 25 and 50 books, depending on size, mood with regard to other hobbies, and available time. Thereore I read about 10 times as much as she does, and on average my books are probably twice as long as well. (If she reads anyting, they're 200 page Harlequin romance pockets.)

She can't imagine e-readers will ever dominate the market. She thinks they'll be a niche forever, or disappear altogether.

I can't imagine that e-reading will slow down: it'll only rise, to at least a 50/50 level, and maybe even 75/25 in favor of e-reading. There are just too many advantages to ebooks: size, price, ability to instantly shop worldwide, no delivery times, space, portablilty, ease of reading with frontlights and font options, durability... advantages that will become even more pronounced if DRM would be dropped, and people get to grips with converting formats.

What do you think; where will e-reading stand in another 10 years from now?

- Will e-reading turn out to be a fad, returning to the niche market it was before 2010 (when e-reading started to seriously take off with regard to availability of mainstream titles), or maybe even disappear altogether?
- Will e-reading keep rising, stabilizing somewhere around 50/50, splitting the market between e-books and pbooks?
- Will e-reading rocket skyward, eventually becoming the default, making paper books the niche market, with it only making up special editions, first editions, and ultra-deluxe hardcovers, for collectors?

(For the sake of argument: an "e-reader" is everything that's not paper, be it an e-reader, tablet, a combined sort of device, or a 17 inch smartphone. My mom doesn't know the difference between a 6 inch reader or a 6-7 inch tablet.)

Last edited by Katsunami; 01-24-2014 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:42 PM   #2
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E-readers aren't going away. Whether they'll be 50/50 is hard to tell. At this point it's only the hardcore readers that are using them. For the most part, the 12 books/year crowd isn't interested. If the price does come down to less that $25-50, we might see a change. The fact that Amazon is selling as many ebooks as they are says it ain't a fad.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:45 PM   #3
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It makes sense that over time people would naturally progress towards ebooks. Everything, is becoming digital so I don't see why books would be any different.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:04 PM   #4
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Paper books are going away sometime in the near future. When that happens is anyone's guess, but they are going away. The future is digital. It's here and it's expanding. There's no stopping it. I envision a near future with internet/cell access to every point on the planet; either very cheap or government subsidized.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:10 PM   #5
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I remember my dad telling me personal computers would be a fad, when my best friend's dad bought an old Apple computer, back when I was in junior high school.

Computers aren't going away, and therefore e-readers aren't going away. We store and access information differently now and I don't think things will go back.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:22 PM   #6
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I don't think paper books will disappear any time soon in my country. And that's fine. As long as publishers stop their ridiculous and conservative attitude towards ebooks and ereaders, I'm a happy person.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:33 PM   #7
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While I personally think that ebooks are here for the long run, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Katsunami's mama. She's probably been around long enough to see things come and go with the times.

The thing about ebooks is that they're great at what they were designed for. They are great for people who buy books and keep them as a part of a personal library. They aren't so great at things that they weren't designed for, such as sharing books. How people respond to what they gain and lose from ebooks is going to make or break the technology. At the moment, it's hard to tell what that reaction will be. It's too early to tell whether people will hold onto a technology that they've just started using or if they will go back to the old ways because it doesn't meet their expectations.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:36 PM   #8
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I don't think the world will give up paper books, but I think ebooks are here to stay.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:42 PM   #9
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As much as I love reading on my Paperwhite, I think the days of the e-ink e-readers are numbered. As the price of tablets comes down I think a lot of people will get them instead of a separate e-ink single purpose device.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BWinmill View Post
While I personally think that ebooks are here for the long run, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss Katsunami's mama. She's probably been around long enough to see things come and go with the times.
Yes of course; music went from record to CD to digital files, and (for some people), to streaming. Movies went from tapes in different formats to Laserdisc, to DVD, Blu-Ray, and (for some) digital file and/or streaming. (Some unlucky guyes even have some HD-DVD's lying around.)

I fully expect the e-reader as we know it today to disappear. Maybe, in 10 years time, we will have some sort of technology that creates a double 6 inch screen (two pages), that can be folded in half twice. If you want to upload a book, you just send the book through wireless means (not using a provider such as Amazon). It could be as simple as having the device check an e-mail address for incoming messages and extracting the attached book. (There are many printers that do this already.)

So yes, the e-reader will disappear, but I think it will be replaced by a superior device. Thinner, smaller, foldable, possibly so flexible that it's nearly unbreakable.

I don't see a complete return to paper books without any means of e-reading, which is my mom seems to think will happen (or at best, the e-reader will be a tiny niche again). I just don't see it happening. It would be as if suddenly no DVD's/Blu-Ray's were sold anymore and everybody would return to VHS. Nope. Doesn't compute.

Quote:
The thing about ebooks is that they're great at what they were designed for. They are great for people who buy books and keep them as a part of a personal library. They aren't so great at things that they weren't designed for, such as sharing books. How people respond to what they gain and lose from ebooks is going to make or break the technology. At the moment, it's hard to tell what that reaction will be. It's too early to tell whether people will hold onto a technology that they've just started using or if they will go back to the old ways because it doesn't meet their expectations.
When buying €30 hardcovers, I can understand people saying: "OK, lets swap some favorites." At the prices I buy ebooks for, often around or even under €1, I'm not going to wait until sombody finishes a book. At those prices, I'll just buy it.

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Old 01-24-2014, 07:51 PM   #11
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For the most part, the 12 books/year crowd isn't interested.
I would tend to agree with this statement. I don't think paperbooks will disappear in the near future. I think we will reach a plateau and then ereaders will gradually outrank paperbooks as the youngest population grows older.

While your Mom is a technophobe, I can guarantee that a LOT of old folks love ereaders because they can read better with them than large print books. They have training sessions once a month now at the library (3 or 4 the 2 weeks after Christmas) and most of the attendees are over 50 and happy with their ereaders. My Mom is 80 in less than a week and she's ready to give up all her paperbacks for her ereader. Took her awhile to warm up to it, but she's on book 4 of The Song of Ice and Fire and loving it. What the technology that they will be using will look like in 10 years - I haven't a clue. I can barely remember what playing music was like before the Ipod.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:51 PM   #12
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As much as I love reading on my Paperwhite, I think the days of the e-ink e-readers are numbered. As the price of tablets comes down I think a lot of people will get them instead of a separate e-ink single purpose device.
I sure hope not. I love e-ink, hate tablets for reading.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:56 PM   #13
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I sure hope not. I love e-ink, hate tablets for reading.
While I agree, at this point in time, nobody yet knows what the future will bring. Maybe there will be some sort of epic tablet with 28.7 billion color screen, perfectly readable in a pitch black room and the Sahara Desert at noon, and still have a battery life of 6 weeks.

My mom wasn't specifically talking about e-ink e-readers, but reading on electronic devices in general. (As I said, she doesn't know or care about the difference between an e-reader or a tablet.)
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:04 PM   #14
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My Mom is 80 ... she's on book 4 of The Song of Ice and Fire and loving it.


Your mom kicks my butt at reading fantasy. It goes too far. It should be forbidden. Or something. Ah well... Happy Birthday
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Old 01-24-2014, 08:09 PM   #15
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As much as I love reading on my Paperwhite, I think the days of the e-ink e-readers are numbered. As the price of tablets comes down I think a lot of people will get them instead of a separate e-ink single purpose device.

I think that dedicated e-readers will be a smaller niche market, but will still remain. E-books are here to stay though, and will just grow relative to paper books. I belong to three local book clubs and of those that participate over half now read the books in e-book format. However, some use tablets. Some use mobile phones. Some use ebook readers.
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