If you had asked publishers six years ago where the industry was headed, e-books would likely be one of the first words out of their mouths. This was the only logical conclusion considering the meteoric rise in e-book sales. From 2008 to 2010, e-book purchases rose a staggering 1,260 percent, according to The New York Times. These fears reached their absolute peak in 2011 when the beloved bookstore Borders officially declared bankruptcy.
"E-books were this rocket ship going straight up," said former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group Len Vlahos, reported The New York Times. "Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music."
However, much like the preemptive obituary for the print industry as a whole, the death of good old-fashioned print books was declared much too soon. Analysts were steadfast in their prediction that e-books would topple print by 2015 but recent e-book sales tell a different tale.
A decline in digital readership
The Association of American Publishers reported that at the start of 2015, sales of e-books decreased by 10 percent, according to The New York Times. This decline in sales does not signal the death of e-books altogether but rather a plateau that suggests print books will never truly go out of style. But what is it about a print book that has allowed these physical copies to weather the digital storm?
Perhaps it has to do with the history. Sure, e-books are convenient and compact but printed books tell a story in themselves. According to Mashable, in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal, author Joe Queenan explained the potential history that can be attached to a physical novel.
"Books as physical objects matter to me, because they evoke the past," wrote Queenan. "A Metro ticket falls out of a book I bought 40 years ago, and I am transported back to the Rue Saint-Jacques on Sept. 12, 1972."
Books are full of memories and that is something their digital equivalent can't quite emulate.
Speaking of digital equivalents, maybe books provide a much-needed timeout from the technological world we live in. It is no secret that everything today is digital. People work on computers all day and communicate through smartphone screens. In such a digitized world, books are a breath of fresh air. While technology provides the world with endless conveniences, escaping to the smell of a new book is a welcome experience.