Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 77

Thread: The demise of books in paper form?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232

    The demise of books in paper form?

    I have (and you too) been witness to a disturbing trend: the demise of physical books.

    Here in Switzerland, bookshops are dying out. Just a couple now in Lugano, where I live. The big bookshops in Zurich have gone the way of the dodo. As a youngster, growing up in LA, I would visit all the used bookstores in range of my bicycle.

    You rarely see books in the apartments of young couples beyond about 100 at most.

    my wife and I are moving, and I have a library of about 4,000 books. I weeded out about 300 books (mostly best sellers) and a 1958 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, still in pristine condition (which I am eliminating because I have a newer 1984 edition.) tried giving them away - but nobody wants them!

    Pretty sad.

    I also wanted to give away a collection of 40 years of National Geographics (unfortunately have no room for them). Nobody wants them!

    I grew up loving books: still have my very first books (Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio). Have a wide range of books: prehistoric animals, dinosaurs, natural history, art books (Impressionists, surrealists, Dali,etc.) theoretical physics books, astronomy, classics (Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Alexander Dumas), mystery (Earle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc), the Carl Barks Donald Duck Library, all Mickey Mouse serials from 1930 till 1945) adventure (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Consn the Barbarian), science fiction (Artur Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut,etc), Tennis biograhies and books, Roman history (biographies of the Roman Emperors, Suetonius, etc), History of Art, classical westerns (zane Grey, Clarence Mulford: Hopalong Cassidy), history of the world books , World War 2 aircraft books, childhood classics (Wind in the Willows, etc.)

    I feel they are all a part of me, and my life would have been poorer without having read them. Sadly, none of my friends or family have ever read any of them.

    My friends have a couple of trendy bestsellers at most.

    No bookstores to spend hours browsing in around anymore in my neighborhood. Pretty sad.

    I wonder if I am an endangered species: a bookworm!

    How is the situation in your neck of the woods?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    48,774
    My impression is that there are fewer bookstores, but I'm not sure there are fewer books. I think the fewer bookstores are just like there are fewer "brick-and-mortar" stores for lots of products - too much competition from on-line retailers.

    As far as fewer books, there are two aspects to this: the number of book titles, and the number of physical books. It would not surprise me if there were fewer physical books, as a lot of people read books electronically (or listen to audio books). I don't have the impression there are fewer book titles though.

    I think it is analogous to music - there may be fewer records and CDs, but I don't think there are fewer songs. They are just being distributed differently.

    Are people reading less than they used to... I'm not sure, but I suspect that the percentage of the population that reads regularly (whether physical books or other formats) is actually pretty low, and that's been true for a very long time.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    The Valley of the Sun
    Posts
    9,319
    I haven't been to my local public library in months and then it was just to renew my library card because they now want to see ID. I've been borrowing books by downloading them to my phone. I don't see what's wrong with losing printed books entirely.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    12,641
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I think it is analogous to music - there may be fewer records and CDs, but I don't think there are fewer songs. They are just being distributed differently.
    I would bet that's a great analogy.

    My wife and I had a few hours to burn in Orlando last week before our flight out and we stumbled across a small bookstore, so we went it. All new books were $2 since it was their liquidation sale. I prefer book stores, but I'm a Baby Boomer.

    I'm also trying to get rid of a hundred pounds (lbs.) worth of books since our bedroom is underneath my "Cave" that has them. It's tough to decide which to dump, admittedly. I found one book of tables that has the long. and lat. of hundreds of cities. That was going out until I saw it was published in the 40's by the Am. Federation of Astrologers AND all the pages inside were upside and backwards. It stays for now.
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,379
    The statistics seem to support more books not less but internet sales are affecting bookstores. That’s sales of real books not kindle or the like.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  6. #6
    I don't think so. In my small town in Canada there is no bookstore but the grocery store and at least one pharmacy sells books. They are mostly romance novels and top sellers. To get some books I like I had travel to the nearest city. But they will probably be some paper books for some time because it is had to sing a kindle or tablet.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,358
    E-book sales have been falling for the last couple of years, while paper book sales are on the rise. I doubt if the long-predicted death of the physical book will happen yet awhile.

    Grant Hutchison

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Clear Lake City, TX
    Posts
    12,425
    We have three fairly large book stores in our immediate area - Barnes & Noble, Half Priced Books (used books), and the Freeman Public Library ( a "joint venture" between the city and county). I've never been to any of them that they weren't busy ... and almost always a line at checkout. Occasionally I get hard copies from an online book club or Amazon. I have also downloaded e-books from Gutenberg, but like the feel of paper. My wife has a Nook with maybe half a dozen books on it; she prefers paper, too.

    I think book stores will survive, one way or another. I hope paper copies will stay around. (Paper copies have a "universal" format but e-readers can be very choosy. Imagine losing the last copy of the Scottish play because you have the wrong software.)
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.
    Isaac Asimov

    You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They donít alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views.
    Doctor Who

    Moderation will be in purple.
    Rules for Posting to This Board

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    But how about your friends and young people? I see homes devoid of books. Sure, electronic distribution channels are one thing, but to see a library full of real physical books is something else.

  10. #10
    Another couple of advantages for paper books, they do not need to be recharged, they do not need to connect to network. Plus there are places were electronic devices are probably not allowed. At the call center I worked at they didn't want electronic devices in the room because they were seen as security problems because people could store credit numbers on them, this rule was relaxed under at times. There were a lot of times were we got no calls so we were allowed to read or do crafts, so I read or spent time here or on bad astronomy.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    E-book sales have been falling for the last couple of years, while paper book sales are on the rise. I doubt if the long-predicted death of the physical book will happen yet awhile.

    Grant Hutchison
    How many young people do you know that have a large collection of physical books? Sure, bestsellers can be on Kindle, but classics?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,358
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    How many young people do you know that have a large collection of physical books? Sure, bestsellers can be on Kindle, but classics?
    The electronic reissue of classics is a major industry, and they're usually available much more cheaply than they are in paper format - sometimes even for free. So that's a good thing, of itself.
    That said, there's research on the topic which shows that millennials actually have all the same reservations about e-books that older readers have - in fact, they are less likely to favour e-books than baby boomers and Gen-Xers are. (Original research here, behind a paywall; good summary here.)
    That accords with my own experience, discussing books with younger family members and friends.

    The demise of bookshops is another matter. If we want that not to happen, we need to buy our books from bookshops, and not from on-line stores. We need to pay a premium to maintain our physical browsing access.
    But that said, on-line sales are keeping many, many small second-hand bookshops alive, so we should be grateful for that.

    So I think physical books are doing fine, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. High-street bookshops selling new editions, maybe less so - but we can fix that if we want to.

    Grant Hutchison

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Bend, Oregon
    Posts
    6,129
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    How many young people do you know that have a large collection of physical books? Sure, bestsellers can be on Kindle, but classics?
    I have a Barnes & Noble Nook, which is a not nearly as successful competitor to the Kindle, and have absolutely no trouble populating my library with books, very few of which are 'bestsellers'.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Olympia, WA
    Posts
    30,725
    I know plenty of younger people who have physical books. This is because of our own attitude on the subject, I'm sure, but it simply doesn't occur to my own kids to own anything but physical books. My son has a tablet, but he doesn't read many books on it. In fact, a lot of my younger friends prefer physical books because they know they really own their physical books. You can never be sure, with downloaded content.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    NEOTP Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    2,650
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    The electronic reissue of classics is a major industry, and they're usually available much more cheaply than they are in paper format - sometimes even for free. So that's a good thing, of itself.

    Grant Hutchison
    And this year the US copyright expires for a number of titles that were protected in 1923 and then extended (the extension expired on December 31 2018). Stanford University has a searchable site for copyright renewals: https://exhibits.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals

    From The Guardian:

    “The drought is over,” proclaims Duke Law School’s Center for the Public Domain, highlighting some of the works which are now available royalty-free, by authors from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Kahlil Gibran, PG Wodehouse to DH Lawrence, Edith Wharton to EE Cummings. It’s not only books: copyright in the US is also expiring on a host of films, paintings and music.

    “The public domain has been frozen in time for 20 years, and we’re reaching the 20-year thaw,” the center’s director Jennifer Jenkins told the Smithsonian. The magazine predicted that the release’s impact on culture and creativity could be huge, because “we have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age”. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, told the Smithsonian: “We have shortchanged a generation. The 20th century is largely missing from the internet.”

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    2,582
    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    And this year the US copyright expires for a number of titles that were protected in 1923 and then extended (the extension expired on December 31 2018). Stanford University has a searchable site for copyright renewals: https://exhibits.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals

    From The Guardian:
    I am all in favor of supporting the next League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Philip Jose Farmer's pulp family tree.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    ó Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,379
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    How many young people do you know that have a large collection of physical books? Sure, bestsellers can be on Kindle, but classics?
    You make me realise i do not know that many young people but my children and grand children have plenty of books. I think few classics if i understand your theme but we do have to move on. Do you include “now we are six”? I make sure that is on the shelf.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    Well, Switzerland is different in that case. Zurich had very large bookstores. Lots of English language bookstores. All gone.

    if moving on means forgetting the classics of English literature, I will pass, thank,you.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post

    The demise of bookshops is another matter. If we want that not to happen, we need to buy our books from bookshops, and not from on-line stores. We need to pay a premium to maintain our physical browsing access.
    But that said, on-line sales are keeping many, many small second-hand bookshops alive, so we should be grateful for that.

    So I think physical books are doing fine, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. High-street bookshops selling new editions, maybe less so - but we can fix that if we want to.

    Grant Hutchison
    It is a vicious circle: the bookshops here got smaller, less to browse, less interesting to visit, fewer visitors fewer books sold, bookshop gets smaller, etc. Amazon is great because you can browse virtually, but still does not compare, for me, to physically browsing.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,358
    I'll repeat - e-publishing has made the classics more available, rather than less. You can download Shakespeare and Dickens and Mallory and umpteen other authors entirely for free. That's a huge improvement on the situation that prevailed when paper was the only medium available.

    Grant Hutchison

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Norfolk UK and some of me is in Northern France
    Posts
    8,379
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    It is a vicious circle: the bookshops here got smaller, less to browse, less interesting to visit, fewer visitors fewer books sold, bookshop gets smaller, etc. Amazon is great because you can browse virtually, but still does not compare, for me, to physically browsing.
    I am sure you are right but i find ever more books reviewed in the print media and online and ever so easy to buy, also online, so browsing is moving along. I live not too far from Cambridge with excellent and famous bookshops but getting there is much harder now, too many cars, no parking, too many tourists, if i look at their new titles, there seem to be more arrivals than ever. I conclude the printed book will live on even if , as always, not everybody gets fluent enough to enjoy reading.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I'll repeat - e-publishing has made the classics more available, rather than less. You can download Shakespeare and Dickens and Mallory and umpteen other authors entirely for free. That's a huge improvement on the situation that prevailed when paper was the only medium available.

    Grant Hutchison
    I will repeat: nothing beats holding a paper book in your hand. The message is not coming across, because you have no physical rapport with physical books.

    Who wants to read Dickens on Kindle anyway? Best sellers OK, but classics? But obviously I have a different rapport physical books than you have. That is OK.
    Last edited by gzhpcu; 2019-Feb-14 at 08:09 AM.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    I do not contest that: I miss the large bookshops.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Nowhere (middle)
    Posts
    36,190
    We still have radio. We still have movie theaters. We still have record albums. The "demise" of all of these was predicted as they were superseded by other media. All are less common than they once were, but none have been wiped out.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,358
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    I will repeat: nothing beats holding a paper book in your hand. The message is not coming across, because you have no physical rapport with physical books.
    Really? How inexplicable, then, that I collect first editions, personally own over 7000 physical books, and my wife and I live in a five-bedroom house specifically so that we can house and display our book collections.
    But I also own a large number of classics on Kindle, because I write about words, and the ability to search text for words and phrases is an advantage.
    Horses for courses, and our personal peference for physical books does not in the least undermine my point that this is now a golden age for the ready availability of classic literature at low cost to almost anyone who is interested. That's a really positive cultural revolution, right there.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Feb-14 at 09:43 AM.

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lugano, Switzerland
    Posts
    7,232
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Really? How inexplicable, then, that I collect first editions, personally own over 7000 physical books, and my wife and I live in a five-bedroom house specifically so that we can house and display our book collections.
    But I also own a large number of classics on Kindle, because I write about words, and the ability to search text for words and phrases is an advantage.
    Horses for courses, and our personal peference for physical books does not in the least undermine my point that this is now a golden age for the ready availability of classic literature at low cost to almost anyone who is interested. That's a really positive cultural revolution, right there.


    Grant Hutchison
    The only thing apparent is that we never agree. But that is OK. We are wired differently.

    PS: in the era of Whatsapp and social media, vocabulary will shrink, and I doubt people will have the patience to read classics. I know a newspaper editor who has been instructed to use simple language. Everything has to be fast nowadays. It is readers of classic books which are diminishing. I see it everyday.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    The beautiful north coast (Ohio)
    Posts
    48,774
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

    All moderation in purple - The rules

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    The Wild West
    Posts
    9,421
    We've got a very cool library here in the Wild West, which I visit a couple times a month. I prefer reading paper books, and Mrs. Cougar likes audio books, which are also available there....


    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Salt-Lake-Public-Library-Main-Building-29877.jpg 
Views:	20 
Size:	81.7 KB 
ID:	24014
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Sioux Falls, SD
    Posts
    8,770
    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    PS: in the era of Whatsapp and social media, vocabulary will shrink, and I doubt people will have the patience to read classics. I know a newspaper editor who has been instructed to use simple language. Everything has to be fast nowadays. It is readers of classic books which are diminishing. I see it everyday.
    My 15-year-old daughter (high school freshman) is doing a project for one of her classes that involves reading two books, one "classic" and one "modern", on similar themes and then comparing the two. She's reading "War of the Worlds" and some modern-day alien invasion book that I'm unfamiliar with (I think the title is "The Fifth Wave" or something like that).

    She's struggling a bit with "WotW", but making her way through it. That book's 120 years old, though, so I think even some of us old farts might find some of the language a bit difficult to parse.
    Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    17,358
    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Oh look, some actual data...

    2014 vs. 2018 for various countries
    Oh look, some other data. (The link is to a summary article - follow the links to reach the data on which it is based.) Independent bookstores increasing in number, sales of physical books increasing year on year since the low in 2013 (a trend maintained in 2018), e-book sales falling for the traditional publishing houses. I don't just make this stuff up, you know.

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Feb-14 at 03:11 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •