World Book Day is back today, inspiring a generation of young readers to get behind books and embrace the literary greats of the past and present. But with the hotly-charged (and slightly weary) debate between Camp Bookworm and Team eBookworm still raging on, what form will those books take in the years to come? As independent book stores struggle to keep up with the electronic upsurge, and more and more book fans turning to eBooks to read up on the latest chart-toppers, are paperbacks really done and dusted?
Of course, there are obvious benefits which make the e-book such a roaring success – we’ve all discussed them. We live in a technological era where everyone expects everything at the touch of a button, in microform and at lightning speed, and Kindle and friends arguably deliver just that. With vast storage capacity and lightweight form, an e-reader offers a simple, and green, alternative to bulk packing for your main Summer two-weeker, not to mention eradicating the back-ache of lugging your favourite hardback from A to B.
It’s rare to travel on the tube or bus without witnessing a plethora of hand-held electronic devices transmitting everything from Danielle Steel to Daniel Defoe at the touch of a button…or are they? That’s just the argument that Rob, bcsAgency Director, was debating at the water cooler this morning – just what are they reading? Of course, the odd eagerly thumbed edition of Fifty Shades of Grey can be spotted shooting up the Northern Line on a Monday morning but it’s more likely that the girl (or guy) in the seat opposite is just as keenly, and discreetly catching up on Christian’s antics from her slightly sweaty palm-held device. From a PR perspective, this casts an almighty blow for book sales. Checking out what someone’s reading by the pool, or clocking the back cover of a dog-eared paperback on the morning commute, is one of the most effective methods of promoting the hottest books on the market, dictating the best-seller chart and generating PR – for free. Throw an eye-catching front cover into the mix and publishers are almost laughing their way to the bank! Not so much with an eBook, where the most you can do is risk a sprain while rubber-necking at someone’s tablet over their shoulder.
Until Kindle and Co. can offer some form of eBook publicity, maybe a pixelated “back cover”, or an intermittent squeak emitting the title/author (and let’s face it, that would be annoying), then I’m in Camp Bookworm as there’s nothing wrong with a bit of literary window shopping to make the commute fly by.