A recent article in the The Telegraph hailed the end of the Kindle and the return to paper books. This wasn’t about reading: this was about the actual technology of reading and it was based on sales numbers for the two technologies. Kindle sales are down. Paper book sales are up. For those of us who haven’t abandoned paper books, it wasn’t as much of a surprise. We like books. I read both analog and digital books but I think, in the long run, I prefer analog. It’s just a technology that works. Easier to cuddle up with at night and, evidently, not as much of an interference with my sleep according to recent reports. No batteries to die just as I am learning that the butler did indeed do it. And no distractions in the form of notifications about new moves in Words with Friends.
I wonder about the Kindle sales, though. They could be more about all the variety of ways you can read a Kindle book from the web browser to the iPad to your phone. I have Kindle apps on all my devices and I do like to be able to pop in when I’m standing in line to catch up on a few pages or sneak in a bit of reading during a long webinar.
What I would really like to see are statistics about the practice rather than the technology. Are people READING more with all those new book sales or do they just want to put them on the coffee table? In a recent episode of The Newsroom, the Silicon valley billionaire runs his fingers along the books in a library and comments that they make good decorations even though the book itself is dead. Evidently, he hadn’t read this article.
My suggestion to prognosticators is to stop prognosticating. Maybe, indeed, a particular piece of hardware is dead, but the practice of digital reading is not going to go away and, it seems, neither is the old fashioned analog version either. People are people, with lots of preferences, and as long as there is demand, supply will follow right along.