So I’m back to New York City for another BEA. It’s exciting to be part of this nationwide consortium for the book industry. I’m here for work, which focuses on the digital platform in information services. I’m attending the 2-day IDPF Digital Book conference that concerns the key issues in publishing in an increasingly digital world. As a representatice from an academic sector that is both a client of the digital media and a provider of such services, I find the IDPF Digital a previous experience as I’ll be meeting and discussing with executives, marketers, designers, developers, authors and agents on how to serve out students and scholars better with digital resources.
That said, personally I’m still a stickler to old fashioned books. I love turning the pages, making pencil marks on the margin, riffling them at the bookstores, and showcasing them. Printed books don’t seem to go away. That initial e-book explosion is starting to look like an aberration. From the start, e-book purchases have skewed disproportionately toward fiction, with novels representing close to two-thirds of sales. Digital bestsellers are dominated in particular by genre novels, like thrillers and romances—screen reading that us well suited to the kind of light entertainment that have been traditionally been sold in supermarkets and airports. These are, by design, the most disposable books.
Readers of weightier fare, like literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, have been less inclined to go digital, myself included. There’s something about the heft and durability, the tactile pleasures that appeal to these readers. Books that merit retreads. So my prediction is that eventually most genre fiction and textbooks will go digital while highbrow literature will remain in print.