Might As Well Get One

Remember the rotary phone?  How about typewriters?  Fax Machines?  Desktop computers instead of lap-tops?  All these widgets have been relegated to the dust-bin, or have a very, very small presence compared to their hey-day.

What’s next on the list of things soon to disappear?  Hate to say it, but flip the pages, hard copy books.

OK, I don’t really hate to say it because frankly I’m ready to stop owning piles and piles of books.  They’ve taken over my house, shelf space is gone, and I no longer consider them decorative.  I know many people are not ready for this.  But, it’s inevitable.  And here’s why:

  • The iPad is just stellar.  Buy one, toss it on the table, and watch your entire family devour it (books, movies, games, email, web, etc., etc., etc.).  You’ll end up needing two.  Face it, it’s way, way better than the Kindle.  And speaking of the Kindle…
  • Amazon is dropping the price and creating new versions of the Kindle as fast as they can because deep in their soles they know that it’s only a matter of time before Apple starts dropping the price on the iPad.  They need market share now, because they’re going to loose it in the future.  Apple sold more iPads in 3 or 4 months than Amazon’s Kindles sales for 3 years. That’s the bad news for Amazon.  The good news is that their online books sales have started to exceed their hardback book sales, and they expect online sales to surpass paperback sales soon.
  • Everyone is getting into the game.  Barnes & Noble has its Nook, Sony the Reader, and Dell & Android have tablets.  All will have book reader apps.  And speaking of Barnes & Noble…
  • Barnes & Noble has given up and is putting itself up for sale.  This speaks to a lack of board confidence in the current and possibly future business model.  The stores are simply not generating enough of the green stuff.  I love the stores, and hope they don’t go away, but it’s beginning to feel a lot like Blockbuster to me.  And speaking of green…
  • Books aren’t green. It makes no sense to cut down the trees, smash them into paper, squirt ink on them, truck them to the warehouse, truck them to the store, have you truck them home, to ultimately be read once and sit on a shelf or be trucked to the land fill.

I won’t take bets as to when the last book is printed in volume.  It’s likely quite some time.  But books will ultimately be like fax machines – seldom seen and used.  The network is ready, the publishers are willing, the technology is more than capable, and the price of digital books and readers is rapidly declining.  You’ve heard the saying “follow the money?”  What does the list above tell you about the money?

It’s going to happen, might as well get one and adapt early.

I welcome your comments.
Mike Brannan