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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More mixed signals on the future of printed books


Further to my 17-Nov-2010 posting, the last few weeks have been another roller coaster ride for anyone wondering about the future of printed books. 

Canada logged a major casualty in the filing for bankruptcy protection of H.B. Fenn, the country’s largest book distributor.  http://www.printaction.com/News/20110207-hb-fenn-bankruptcy.html

Additionally, Amazon has announced that its sales of Kindle e-books have exceeded not only its hardcover sales (which occurred last year), but now the number of paperbacks it sells as well.  http://www.printaction.com/News/20110201-kindle-paperback.html

Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the New York Times Sunday Book Review assures us that the number of printed books out there remains impressive.  It estimates that in 2010 (after returns), American publishers shipped an estimated 3.2 billion books—or about 10 printed volumes for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.A. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/books/review/InsideList-t.html

Not surprisingly, speculation and discussion from many quarters continues on a 3-month-old LinkedIn discussion group that asks the question “Do you think printed books will die? Are we all going digital?” at: http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=33459885&gid=145854&commentID=31079155&trk=view_disc.