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A Book is 'A Movie in Your Head'

The iPod was introduced with the slogan “ A Thousand Songs in Your Pocket .” It was a breakthrough technology that really caught on. The slogan even made sense. It explained the problem that it solved – portability – or the lack of space. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Apple put its marketing muscle behind the campaign.

Imagine if books had a slogan. What would it be? “Books don’t need a slogan,” you might say. “Everyone understands their benefit.” Well, yes, most people do, but slogans often make the case better (for proof, see “Yes We Can” or “Make America Great Again”).

While most would agree on the benefits of books, there is ongoing debate about which format – digital or print – people prefer to read them in.

Why would anyone want to read a digital book?

Some people argue that digital books are overtaking print books. For example, Nielson reported that 50% of all fiction sales are in e-book format. I wondered about this and other similar claims and contemplated whether they are hype or reality. To put it in the vernacular, “Is it fake news?”

My wife has an e-reader but we never use it. We recently moved and we don’t even know where the device is. It is most likely still in a box in the workroom. But we don’t miss it.

I read a report that said that E-book sales plunged nearly 20% earlier this year . The article also indicated that sales of e-readers declined by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016. Then I realized that many people are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones, rather than dedicated e-readers – so maybe there are a significant number of people that pick digital over print. Some people just prefer multifunctional devices to e-readers such as Kindle and Nook.

In Defense of Print

“I like to hold the product” was cited as the reason most people prefer printed books. Many would agree that print books are a break from electronic devices or social media. Some people feel print books are the new vinyl.

I recently read a study that indicated that 65% of Americans reported reading a printed book in the last year or so – vs. 28% who read an e-book .

And, while I couldn’t help but wonder if e-readers were more hip, I now find out that younger readers are driving the appetite for print.

My Own Research

I recently sat down with a 72 year old avid reader, and asked him why he liked e-readers. Not surprisingly, his answers were mostly financial. He had downloaded the Kindle app onto his laptop.

I came away from the discussion realizing that, like many other things, preference often comes down to price. People don’t want to pay $19.95 for a book anymore. Especially when they can buy a used copy on Amazon for $1. Or an e-book version of it for $5.99-$9.99.

It became evident to me that it is just a matter of preference. Some people like vanilla ice cream while others fancy chocolate.

In my mind, there is no doubt that the debate will continue. What isn’t debatable is that people still like to read. Pew Research ran a study and the results showed that 26% of readers indicated that they do so for three main reasons: learning, gaining knowledge and discovering information.

Related: The Tale of a "Terrible" Writer

Other reasons people read are:

  • 15% escaping reality
  • 12% relaxation
  • 6% the variety of topics
  • 4% spiritual enrichment
  • 3% mental challenge, and
  • 2% physical properties of books (feel and smell)
  • If you’re big into digital, you might want to attend Digital Book World October 2-4, 2018. Next year’s conference will be held in Nashville, TN. Score Publishing, the producer of the iBA Conference, acquired Digital Book World’s event from F+W Media. The event will be held around the time the company normally holds its iBA conference. Score Publishing is best known for VoiceFirst.FM, a media network centered around voice technology such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apples’ Siri.

    If you prefer print, a better conference for you might be BookExpo , to be held at the Javits Center in New York City, May 30-June 1, 2018. I hope to see you there.

    By the way, the best slogan I have seen for books is “A movie in your head.” The slogan holds up – regardless of whether you have a print, or digital, copy of it in your hands.