The Real McCoy – Books, Bytes and ‘Backs

I remember hearing a friend describe watching a no-hitter with his girlfriend. She wasn’t a huge baseball fan and wanted a “real” no-hitter where the batter never even made contact with the ball…

This week Amazon announced that Kindle titles were now outselling hardcover books at a rate of 108 per 100. As one of the most important milestone reached by e-books this is exciting news. Paperbacks are still outselling e-books but their inherently lower prices and slow adoption of e-reading devices will keep this form of dead tree on the shelves for many years to come.

In the super long term however, I think the hardcover will be the survivor and paperbacks will find themselves overtaken by the electronic format or formats that win the e-book wars. Hardcover books have been largely unchanged for decades and before that, hundreds of years. Yes, binding have improves and we no longer wrap our books in leather, but the basic size and feel of a hardcover for our ancestors would be familiar to us and vice versa.

I don’t own a Kindle or Nook, but I do read the occasional book on the iPhone now and am really impressed with the iPad. The iPad is heavy, but so is a hardback. While I don’t often feel old and stodgy – I scrapped money together from a paper route in 6th grade for my first computer and have been tech obsessed ever since – I like reading from books. I like old books. Sometimes the moldier and dustier the better.

What would truly be perfect would be an electronic paper that could be bound into a book like traditional paper. You would be able to purchase books and load them into this template book and the pages would transform into whatever book you loaded. A true e-book. Kind of like that ultimate, pure, no-hitter.

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