E-Books outsell hardback books on Amazon.com
With the launch of Amazon’s Kindle three years ago, many people are beginning to wonder if books are going to become a thing of the past.
The downloading of an e-book, or books online, has become wildly popular, and now news sources are buzzing over Amazon’s recent announcement that they sold 80 percent more e-books than hardback books over the past year.
Digital books for Amazon’s e-reader Kindle are outstripping hardback books in the US, at a rate of 143 e-books for every 100 hardbacks over the past three months.
“This is incredible, considering we have been selling hardbacks for years and Kindles for 33 months,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com.
It seems as though the trend is moving toward the small, handheld device that has the capacity to hold up to 1,500 books. Amazon advertises that the Kindle was created to provide readers an easier way to read and store their books, and customers seem to agree.
Chelsea Burke, a user of the Kindle, said that its advantages are “its light weight. I like to carry books around with me to read on the metro, but” she laughs, “it started to interfere with what purse I could carry with my outfit, and that just wouldn’t do.”
On their website, Amazon advertises Kindles to be “slim, lightweight, and simple to use.”
Jim Crane, a man who carries his Kindle to and from work in his laptop bag, says it has been a great buy. During his hour-long commute into Washington D.C. and back again in the evenings, he said, “I just read more now overall. I used to not be such a big reader.”
Though the Kindle itself may seem expensive upfront at $189, it may create a larger ripple of savings. John Lee, a college graduate living in New York City said that he looks forward to “devices like Kindles bringing down the cost of books,” much like the trend when music was taken out of record shops and became readily available online.
Students have found Kindles to offer an alternative to lugging around a heavy backpack, which has notoriously caused back problems in the past.
“They don’t have all my textbooks available yet,” Matt Breining a college student, said, but there are plenty of “books I read in my lit classes. Sometimes that can be four books per class, so it helps to have them all together like that.”
Readers have found advantages. But others reacted to the idea of e-books eclipsing traditional books with much resistance.
Brenda Goen, a mother and lifelong reader, says that “there is just something about [the Kindle] that can never be the same as reading a book. There’s something physical about the experience-even the smell of the book counts.”
Some claim that they find e-books hard to read from. The results of a recent survey conducted by Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group found reading speeds to be “10.7 percent slower on a Kindle than an actual book.”
But concerns go beyond personal enjoyment of the product. “If books became less popular, I can see smaller, local booksellers going out of business. That would be a tragedy” said Alexander Hamady, a recent DePaul graduate who majored in French. Many who feel connected to local bookstores in Chicago share this same sentiment.
However, book lovers needn’t fear the extinction of their beloved books just yet; the representation of numbers is a bit skewed here. It only mentions hard books.
An article written in Wired Magazine chided Amazon for neglecting paper book sales in their advertising, writing, “It shows that they completely disregard the big advantage of the paper book: buy it and it is yours. Whereas a Kindle book is pretty much still the property of Amazon, and can be deleted from afar whenever it likes, a paper book can be lent, resold and used to prop up a wobbly table.”
Amazon’s sales of paperback books accounts for a vast majority of it sales-an amount that dwarfs the number of downloaded e-books.
So for people like UVA student Nicole Puskar, who keeps her favorite books on her bookshelves like “a collection of old friends” as she calls them, will still have plenty of paper to hold despite Amazon Kindle’s successes.