When Amazon first released their e-book reader, the Kindle, in 2007, it sold out in five and a half hours. Even with this hype e-books were still seen as a relatively niche area.
I don’t believe many back then would have predicted the results of a report released yesterday announcing that the Kindle and e-books will together earn Amazon almost 10% of its overall revenue next year. What is more, last month Amazon announced that in the previous year e-books had outsold print books in its online store.
There are understandably a large number of people who are completely against the idea of e-books: There is nothing like the smell and feel of a print book in your hand; you can easily annotate it; fold down pages; share. That last point is one that e-book companies are trying to overcome. However, as the music and film industries have learnt, as soon as something is available online it is very difficult to prevent piracy, so retailers are understandably cautious.
I have always been a big fan of print books and before every holiday I had the battle of fitting as many as possible into my suitcase. An e-book would clearly resolve this issue, but it somehow felt like they were a cheat. In the end in September last year I got given one as a present and I haven’t looked back.
I no longer have the fight between books or clothes on holiday (usually ended up being both…); I don’t have to settle for random trashy novels I find in the hotel after finishing all of mine; I can buy a book with a single click of the mouse without having to get in my car to go to the nearest book shop. Most importantly to me though, I read more than I have ever done because there is no excuse to not always have my e-book with me.
I am not surprised that in four short years e-books have enjoyed massive success. For the younger generations they satisfy the need for gadgets while still supporting the publishers and authors.
I will always have real, paper books on a bookshelf in my house, but my e-book will travel everywhere I go.