Despite the makers’ suggestions that the device will make the old-fashioned print book extinct, it seems clear, for some time to come, at least, that these “appliances” are alternatives to books, not replacements.
My two-week experience with a Kindle last year convinced me that it’s fine for reading straightforward narrative fiction and nonfiction while traveling, but it’s a cold, impersonal experience for a “dinosaur” like myself, not raised on computer screens.
And, it’s the screen itself that limits the eyes from roaming around unlike a standard book with its two-page view, as though you are inhabiting the story rather than getting it in restricted chunks.
No matter. E-book readers are selling well. Apple said last week it had sold 3.27 million iPads since April. Amazon said Kindle sales have tripled. Sony chimed in as well, claiming to have scored 10 million book sales at its online download store.
What boosted those sales was price cuts. Barnes & Noble sells a Nook model for $149; Amazon dropped the Kindle from $259 to $189 recently.
Amazon raised the level of its aggressive marketing strategy last week when it announced that e-book sales have surpassed print book totals on its website.
“Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books,” the company said.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, called the event “the tipping point” for digital books, meaning his company’s digital-book department and its Kindle.
Perhaps we should place that claim into perspective.
As Michael Cader of the trade observer Publishers Lunch pointed out, sales of print books last year were 205 million, a number that must reduce digital book numbers to insignificance at this point — if we had those figures, but Amazon won’t provide specific numbers, either for book or Kindle sales.
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