How Amazon has disrupted the book industry

Just over ten years ago, in November 2007, Amazon unleashed the Kindle. It has disrupted the book industry––publishers, authors, and readers––more than anything since the paperback. On Amazon’s own site, anyway, sales of ebooks surpassed print books in April 2011, less than four years after the Kindle’s debut. Five years ago, some people were wondering if printed books could survive the onslaught of ebooks. Since then, demand for printed books has been rising. Ebooks won’t go away, but neither will print. The Kindle Store now has close to 6 million ebook titles and accounts for more than 80% of all … Continue reading

Major disruptions in the book publishing business

Ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle roiled the book publishing business. Big time. Ebooks now outsell printed books. We can carry one device with dozens of books, and it weighs less than any one of them would in print. Major bookstore chains went belly up. But ebooks are hardly the first major disruption in book publishing. The printing press only came along about 700 years ago. It eventually put an end to the scriptoriums that had produced manuscript books for centuries. Printing put books in the hands of more readers than the scriptoriums ever could, but books remained relatively expensive well … Continue reading

Reference books and sets you must read in print

In my last post, about editing, I cited my father’s entry in Contemporary Authors, a still-growing set with more than 200 printed volumes. I couldn’t find the photocopy I made several years ago when I first stumbled across it. I found an online version in WorldCat, but it’s available only at 8 libraries, none within 500 miles of my home. I had to go to a local library to consult the print version. How many other important reference works are available only in print? … Continue reading

Library robots

Libraries have always been at the forefront of adopting new technology, but their innovations usually have something to do with organizing and retrieving information. The online library catalog is a good example. Now some libraries are borrowing technology from manufacturing: robots that shelve and retrieve physical books. It may come as a surprise to some people that printed books are still such a big deal to academic libraries. After all, much of formerly huge reference collections has been replaced by online databases. Long runs of many important journals and other periodicals are likewise available as full text online. Ebooks have … Continue reading

Assorted bookworms

When I googled “bookworm,” almost the entire first page of hits concerned an online word game. The lone exception was for a long-running radio program about books. I suppose a fair amount of book clubs, book stores, book review newspaper columns, etc. have the name bookworm or bookworms. I even came across Bookworm Socks! And why not? Bookworm is a long establish idiom for someone who spends a lot of time reading or studying. I take it the term is not entirely complimentary, as in this illustration: ” The girl who would rather stay inside and read than go out … Continue reading