Nicholas Carr's Shallow E-book Analysis
Nicholas Carr is a great thinker and writer, but I'm baffled by his recent blog post about the flattening sales of e-books.
This statement in particular is a little, uh, shallow:
We may be discovering that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.
Okay, that has me puzzled: How can an e-reader or tablet be “less suitable” for certain types of books? It’s a device that shows words on a screen. Are the words in literary fiction rendered in a hard-to-read font? How are the words on the screen in a nonfiction book somehow less intelligible or edifying than the words on the screen in a science fiction, horror, or romance novel?
Makes absolutely no sense.
Ditto the comment about e-readers and tablets being less suitable for the couch. Sure, I wouldn’t take my iPad into the bathtub, and it’s a little hard to read in the bright sun at the beach, but on the couch? That’s where I read all the time. On my iPad. And in bed, too. A Kindle or an iPad Mini is generally lighter and less cumbersome than the average hardback.
I love reading, and I love paper books. But I now buy about 90% of new books on my iPad. Like many avid readers, I have shelves sagging with all the books I’ve collected over my lifetime. And boxes of them in storage. There are occasional books I’ll buy in print because they're "keepers"—shelf-worthy novels, cookbooks, art books, and reference works. But a novel I’ll likely read only once? Why should I acquire another physical object when the experience of reading it is no different as an ebook?
The ebook sales numbers may have flattened, but I’ll be very surprised if they don’t continue to grow. Most everyone I know who has read a few ebooks has continued to buy more of them. The convenience, portability, and lower cost will continue to win people over.
And I was saying the same thing even before my book came out as digital-only.