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Position of Hard Copy in E-reader Era

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New times change the old ones. We browse and download instead of spending time in a library. We now press the buttons on our lap tops instead of flipping through pages of a book like our parents and grandparents used to do. There is still a chance that some people prefer to hold an old good paper copy instead of being an owner of an electronic reading device. Each group of supporters has their own reasons to stand for their favorites and cherish their reading habits. Digital changes are irrevocable. There is no use to deny the implications of new era on traditional methods of content representation. However, depending on what users prefer to read and under what circumstances defines the shape and format of the process.

Gardiner (2013) gathered some opinions on whether and when e-readers’ growing popularity will put a full stop in printed copies’ existence. Some individuals believe that sooner or later it will be too costly for publishers to produce their pieces. In addition, if children and school kids are raised in a new e-technological era, they are unlikely to go back to the reading format their ancestors were familiar with. Older people, however, would rather be devoted to the old reading style and would not experiment with the new age devices. On the one hand, a strong reason why regular books might disappear is a large scale of features e-readers offer and their affordable price. On the other hand, a scent of a good book widely admirable by many is unlikely to fade away even though more and more people try out e-readers and consider it t be a wise alternative to a classy reading manner. A very interesting opinion is held regarding very first editions of some books which only become more and more valuable with time. In addition, a paper book can comprise a memorable gift on any occasion at any point of time. There might be also a situation when old books are out of print and one can only get a copy at a flea market. The disadvantage of e-reader is seen in the necessity to charge the device which might become hard or impossible to do when having a journey to remote, extreme travel destinations. One more reason an avid reader prefers to have Kindle or iPad is the space. The storage for printed copies, numerous book shelves could be a luxury for some people. There is a belief, instead, that e-reading process has no soul: one cannot feel the real effort put in a written piece of literature. Moreover, some people blame e-reading generation for being lazy to go to a library or a book store. Another disadvantage of being dependent on a gadget is a rush for a newer version, a better and more advanced one. This includes additional costs and certain degree of technological addiction.

Paton (2011) discovered that nowadays schoolchildren become more comfortable using e-readers instead of usual textbooks. The author concludes that this type of education gives children a possibility to study anywhere and whenever they are willing to. Furthermore, pupils feel curious and keen on “magic” books leaving unattended the usual printed versions.

Kosar (2011) is a bright supporter of a traditional way of reading. He acknowledges the idea of contemporary gadgets to be a great progress, however, is not ready to give up a usual book in favor of iPad or any other “piece of technology”. The reasons behind are numerous. Neither magazines nor books will ever experience software crashes or run out of charge. At times, it is not easy to concentrate solely on reading when you are tempted to open a browser and surf on internet. The author also described two “disaster scenarios” and gave his reasons why he wouldn’t prefer to have an e-reader. First, he spends time in bars reading. Having a costly device along with a drink might not be a good combination. He is sure, there is no problem leaving a book on the table and leaving the place you sit for a while. On the contrary, if he leaves an iPad unattended it might be the last time he sees it. Second, the technology changes all the time. There is a high chance that e-book format will change or the manufacturer will go bankrupt, and his invention will no longer be serviced. This might leave a reader at a loss of all his collections he has been passionately putting up together for a long time. The author adds that having an e-reader for someone who likes to read while taking a bath would be insane while a book makes a good company. Kosar is sure that e-reader is just not his cup of tea since it is not appealing his needs as a reader.

Challies (2010) has his own reasons to prefer hardcopy over electronic book. First, he is not ready to “transfer from paper to pixels” due to the matter of ownership. Having a file on your iPad is not equal to seeing a book on the shelf. The author argues that it is not the same to owe the rights to digital copy and observe a book lying on his desk. Second, a big disappointment about electronic version is that you cannot loan it to anyone. The blogger sees some “level of trust and care” in the process of loaning a paperback, which would not be the same when you simply pass on a file to your friend. He calls it just a “duplication” which is not even close to pleasant insights you share with people about the book. Third, a “real” book is more than just words while a digital copy takes away all the charm and importance away from the process of reading. Fourth, reading a book on your gadget can be a tough thing to do since you have an option to “browse, search or play games”. The author claims that this “disengages” the reader in many ways. Lastly, it is impossible to buy an old digital book. The way this type of books look like will always be same. A used electronic book simply does not exist neither it ages.

Rare Books Digest (2011) questions if knowledge transferred from an author to a reader with the help of “techno buffs” can replace a proper library. There is a real anti-e-reader community. They highly appreciate a “tactile sensation” one can experience when holding an actual book. Then, some people are so proud they have read a large number of books that they would like to display their “trophies”. The authors of the post wittily cite Cicero, who once said that “if you have a garden and a library, you have everything”.

Digital revolution is a part of a bigger picture in the American culture (Rainie et al., 2012). About 20% of adults acknowledged they had read an e-book for the past year. After a holiday season this number grew since many of them got tablet computers or other gadgets as gifts. The number for the same period of last year is just 17% which proves the increasing demand for e-reading. According to a survey conducted in 2011, more than 40% of Americans adults preferred an e-book or any other press such as magazines or news on their phone, tablet or computer for the past year. A number of e-readers increased significantly with the rising popularity of tablet computers and other gadgets. The authors argue that the main trend of growing e-reading habits is reflected in the fact that most of the readers believe their technological devices to be a “regular source of reading”. An average e-reader has covered 9 books more than his non-e-reader counterpart for the 12 month period. Moreover, those who prefer electronic books more often read news, journals and other content using their gadgets. Among people who do not currently owe any type of e-reader only 16% said they do not have one because they prefer books or printed media. Regular book formal still wins readers’ preferences; however, its popularity is noticed to drop down. In particular, in June 2010 only 4% of the total number of readers was reading e-books. This number reached 15% mark in December 2011. In fact, cell phones contribute a lot to a rising popularity of digital media. Namely, 29% of e-readers consume the content using their smartphones. The survey distinguishes various situations when people tend to use either e-book or a regular printed version. Specifically, when people want to read to their children or exchange books with other, they use a hard copy. On the contrary, e-reading is top-rated when one needs a quick access or mobility.

Observing flourishing demand for “mobile reading” and changing habits of younger generation, experts cannot help but wonder: will a hard copy last in a rapid e-reading world? Trying to survive, regular book stores have to come up with new ideas or develop a far-looking vision on how to retain their existing customers as well as to be competitive enough to acquire new ones. There is an opinion that clients’ experience is going to play a pivotal role in durability of print copy. Some publishers offer to their clients live artist performance at a book store, others – make the space of specific sections of the shop looking attractive, for example, children’s literature corner. The author suggests that the book sellers need to “stretch their creativity” and offer more than just reading. A handcrafted book concept is another idea which might fascinate today’s reader.

Corn (2010) argues that digital print technologies are going to dominate printing business. The author reveals the possibility of digital press to take over the offset one. The reason why this might happen in the nearest future is because digital print gives a customer a possibility of printing small quantities of highly targeted pieces on substrates we could not even think about earlier.

Thomas (2011) points out three main trends prevailing in printing industry. First, workflow digitalization allows electronic transfer of files while desktop publishing fully controls printing process. Automated workflow process is believed to connect clients, printing systems and services even stronger. Second, technology integration conditioned by total workflow automation need resulted in desktop publishing programs to project images directly to a printing plate. Cross media conversion is another sign of technological integration. Color printing became more cost saving with the development of Direct Imaging offset presses and Inkjet printers. Third, changing demands for shorter production and schedules to keep up with digital printing. On the way from “press-centric to print-centric” trends, printing industry makes a step forward to “the point of distribution”. Thomas believes that emergence of new printing demands will transform the firms into a prosperous and successful business. The author is sure that a digitized workflow has advanced the automation of printing process and resolved the situation with overload with manual operations which can trigger production delays. According to Thomas, printing industry maintains a strong position mastering new approaches to grow its market presence and prosper.

PricewaterhouseCoopers associates (2010) suggest that publishers should “adapt the future (p.29). The experts argue that e-books and e-readers can be considered both a “risk and an opportunity”. The publishers are accountable for adjusting to transformation, changing their processes and providing their personnel with training if needed. Additional requirement is seen in multiple format content. By becoming flexible, publishers will sing up for a feasible digital business model. PwC sees a greater risk for publishers who will refuse to restructure their business now and align their operation with new technological era.

Publishers are required to engage in “hybrid” business model and synchronize IT-based solution and traditional publishing practices (The changing face of publishing, 2010, p.7). Publishing industry players are advised to snapshot their current operational model along with “systems and costs”; list today’s needs and prospect future demands; choose where their own resources should be utilized and where it would make more sense to rely on third-party expertise. As the survey conducted by the company suggests, till date publishers were able to manage their IT-needs by in-house associates. Keeping up with growing market demands for new operational models, publishers will have to decide how to optimize their business and which IT-functions to outsource.

There are four main directions publishers should adopt in order to keep their business going (Savitz, 2012). First, publishers need to give their audience freedom of choosing the content by “mixing and matching” their reads. Thus, publishers should not be afraid of newly introduced applications helping users to enjoy “endless stream of content” and offer similar articles automatically. Second, print media players shall take an advantage of already existing technological opportunities. There are various mobile platforms available which publishers can greatly benefit from. Third, they shall concentrate on smart advertising campaigns giving their customers the right slice of information and keep the users keen on the actual content. Lastly, Savitz sees the necessity for another tablet era revenue model. The new mechanism can cover different types of mobile promotion and advertising.

The participants of Drupa conference, annually held in Dusseldorf, Germany, were introduced a large number of printing solutions which believed to compete even with iPad (Piesing, 2012). New toner and inkjet technologies will help a regular digital printer to be as fast and cost-efficient as an offset press with no harm to an actual quality of copies. This technological breakthrough is believed to be “the second printing revolution” and is expected to change the nature of commercial printing. Michael V. Ring, senior executive at Xeikon America, commented on company’s new Trillium technology calling it an achievement which will “turn the printing world upside down”. The speaker emphasized that punishers will not have to trade off among speed, quality or cost of their operations picking just two of them. All three of the criteria will be available with a new advancement offered by the company. Another company, which pioneered the technological revolution along with Xeikon, Landa introduced its own “secret weapon”. The firm presented new water-based ink named Landa NanoInk, along with innovative ink ejectors. The ink has pigment particles tinier than the width of a strand of hair that will empower high-resolution images in no time. Another advantage of this process is the recycling property of the ink container.

Book publishing industry will definitely be highly influenced by cost-efficient and easy-to-use e-readers (Posner, 2010). The reason behind that is the savings publishing houses can accumulate by producing e-content with no expenses on paper, ink and handling charges. The author forecasts significant changes in publishing industry due to a digital reading concept launch. However, he sees no rapid or abrupt decrease in printed books popularity.

Bowler (2013) is sure that book publishing business is in an obvious turmoil due to the flourishing demand for online content and e-readers. Publishers are trying to reach out to their authors by not only producing the copies of their novels but proving a full support in marketing authors’ creations. The number of e-books sold for the past few years is really impressive. Nevertheless, the actual last year sales signify that the demand has lessened.

Dvorak (2010) sees no threat for publishers in evolving changes. He acknowledges the growing demand for digital content is an opportunity for publishing houses to advance their operations and maximize profits. The author takes a close-up look at book publishing evolution and discovers the reasons why the industry will only benefit taking into account new market conditions. The primary argument presented by Dvorak is the fact that digital book format can be an actual printed preview. He emphasizes that presenting any book step by step can actually save money from editing, modifying the content and boost the advertising of author’s work. This fresh look at publishing perspectives might concentrate the power in hands of writes and owners of the script, which Dvorak finds to be a good sign. Moreover, such a strategy can give a publisher a sign of either success or failure of the upcoming book. The author is quite content with a newly introduced challenge and considers it to be an amazing chance to expand publishing business rather than treating the technological progress as a threat or bad omen.

There is a similar opinion that it is too early to burry an old classic paperback. Pogue (2010) argues that digital media is too raw to outsell hardcover copy. The journalist presents three core reasons in support of his point of view. First, new technological idea is relatively new and has not yet grounded firmly. Second, digital media is unlikely to replace traditional reading approach. New format would rather complement the existing one. The author draws similarities pointing out the amiable co-existence of television and radio, emails and paper letters which still present in our lives. Third, Pogue states the immaturity of digital model of content.  Even though a great numbers of e-readers are currently on the market and the prices vary to satisfy any audience, the concept is still new. People are not ready to fully reprogram and accept the emerging trend with some of its obvious drawbacks such as draining battery, no good read at hand as a result. The author acknowledges the biggest issue of all that each firm uses various copyright protection methods. There is no generally accepted system to keep the authorship rights at a bay. No doubt that revenues generated by digital books will continue to grow, but there is no reliable evidence that a regular book story will come to an end.

Wijesiri (2012) ensures that “print media is not going to die, but digital platforms will continue to play a big role in the publishing world. The author recalls the times when he enjoyed reading a morning newspaper from begging to an end, shared an interesting article by tearing out a respective piece of content. Two decades later, the process of sharing has changed. Wijesiri finds relevant news online and sends the link to a friend or colleague. He sees a major advantage of online media over a printed source in effortless sharing. At the same time, the author has doubts if along with “going green” days media has to support the concept. No matter what kind of information a reader is looking for, it can be found either online or in printed edition of newspaper, journal etc. This is the source of ongoing race where nobody has dot the “i” yet.

Despite the proven fact of increasing dedication to e-reading in UK, the sales of digital content through amazon.co.uk are relatively low comparing to an overall spending on books (Pilkington, 2012). The blogger takes a safe side admitting that even though readers show a great interest for digital versions of new arrivals, hardcover is not ready to give up its positions any time soon.

Publishers have a proven record of resistance and conquest of the challenges which adds some certainty to paperback to last for long (Brown, 2012). Electronics will not disappear anywhere, but technological revolution might be seen as another chapter of hard copy life cycle. Obviously, publishing industry will need to adopt changes and come up with alternative ideas to attract reader’s attention. Many firms have already taken up the challenge and started promoting “online events” which later on result in people coming to actual book stores.

PwC analysis (2010) highlights that both the digital content and its printed format will coexist(p.15). In some instances, hard copies will be substituted by online content, but in general both formats will “complement each other”. Digital revolution will change the face of only specific hardcover related to travel or certain area of interests. On the contrary, consultants have less faith in printed periodicals and newspapers. The reason of pessimistic forecast is the property of tablets to attract the attention of users to online content that can be purchased or acquired along with a subscription at any time anywhere once can access the world web.

Catalano(2012) states that digital copy will not rule the world. A lot of research suggests that digital format have a brilliant future, however, some paperbacks will remain the way we see them today “skipping e-books entirely for other digital forms, or prevailing in paper”. The analyst differentiates among digital format, applications and hard copy convenience depending on kind of content one intends to read. E-books are perfect for fiction genre since the plot is serial and consecutive. Digital copy is a great format for narrative story and this is where e-reader comes at hand. Applications can outsmart printed textbooks since they have a “how-to” option and allow customizing the content depending on learning goals of students. The author ensured “positive memories” about hard copy will guarantee it will survive at any point of time. He acknowledges that sometimes book cover and binding are as important as an actual story in it. There is an evident pleasure of getting a book signed by its author which is impossible if you own a digital text. Catalano sees the future of visual novels and art books in their paper version for a little longer, however, later on books nature can change from just “a content to a book as an object”. Different kind of books will find their own unique format.

According to a recent post at Canadian Guardian, e-reader will never be as pleasant as an old good paperback. A doubting opinion expressed by Wedlake (2013) arguing that even though techno buff might physically substitute a usual book, the experience of reading will never be the same. The newspaper correspondent is sure that “bookworms” are unlikely to change their reading traditions they cherish so much. She mentions that there is a big difference between holding a book and an e-reader. In addition, some people who are unfamiliar with new technologies might not feel comfortable navigating the content using an e-reader. She is absolutely positive that many people would be more content with old “yellow pages” than with high-tech device. After all, books have been with us long before the technological boom and they are unlikely to leave their honorable place so quickly.

As per the facts presented at Techvibes Newsdesk (2012) tablets are believed to win over popular e-readers because of its “all-in-one” advantage. E-reader lacks multi-functional interface and this is the reason why it won’t last for too long. Tibken (2012) shares the opinion about “alarming” decline of e-readers demand. Growing competition between two techno rivals will urge e-readers manufacturers to sell their merchandise at production or even lower prices. Even if it happens, e-readers will not have the same recognition among users they used to have for a little while before. Good news is that e-readers are still in vogue in Eastern Europe as well as Africa, India and Russia.

Joint future of printed books and their digital counterparts is possible (The Future of E-books, 2010, p.27). According to the survey results, people are more dedicated to reading digitally in Britain and the US. Bookstores have to showcase their expertise and strengths, choose “multichannel” strategy and combine “physical bookstores”, online store and brochures all together.

A similar concern is expressed by Bensinger (2012) at The Walla Street Journal. The journalist casts a doubt on the future of e-readers when the prices for not-only-reading gadgets are falling down while they become more and more technologically advanced. More cost-efficient tablets are believed to draw the attention of the users away from once popular e-reader offering more options and services at one stop. E-readers will occupy only a niche in the future market due to its limited functionality and weak competitive advantage.

Paczkowski (2012) noted that whenever someone buys a tablet, an e-reader dies. He cites the findings of IHS iSupply about the destiny of reading gadgets and says that they are “flaming out”. The author sees this trend to be quite obvious and reasonable. Every new tablet generation is more technologically complex, has better design and user interface. This is a battle between “single-task” and “multi-function” devices the market experiences now.

Taking into account the statistics, expert opinions and analysis of declining demand for e-readers, it is logical to conclude that regular hardcopy is unlikely to vanish from our lives. Perhaps, for a little longer people will consume the content using e-readers, but there is no doubt their “Golden Age” is already a history. The main problem for e-readers is the limited offering package and inability to keep up with the growing customer needs. Tablet manufacturers put a lot of effort in giving the users maximum of opportunities at a lower price. Thus, a lot of customers will sooner or later prefer this beneficial combination and switch to tablet solution.

Books, newspapers, magazines still have a long life to live, but publishers need to keep up with the market trends and adopt new strategies to retain the popularity of their printed editions. There are several options available for publishers as a solution to the declining demand on their product. At first, it is suggested that some of third-party IT service providers might need to be involved to optimize operational performance of publishing firms. Then, new solutions must be introduced to balance high quality of prints, speed of the process and a good price. Before customers had to compromise and choose only two of three options available, but with new ideas they do not have to make any concessions. Lastly, publishers might decide to present some of their content online giving readers a preview of what will be available later on with the full version release. This principle can be applied both to new books, media or entertainment. Smart marketing and advertising campaigns play a key role in the future of hard copy. The situation is similar to movie releases. First, people have a chance to see a trailer of the upcoming film. Only after they pay for a cinema ticket or download the film, they get a full-length video to watch. Cumulating the experience and best practices, existing trends the industry has, publishers can use market risks and turn them into additional possibilities for expanding their business and operations. In order to profit from digital revolution, hard copy can be accompanied by its online version generating traffic to actual bookstore locations and offering customers more than just reading but entertainment evenings with popular bands, specially decorated store sections for younger readers and their parents. Changes in reading habits won’t be even across the borders. Some countries are more technologically advanced and progress faster toward new offerings; they are more open to embrace fresh ideas. The chances all the formats will amiably coexist are quite high; however, there is a possibility of e-readers to be off the market in sometime due to the simplicity of their mission and limited functions a gadget has.

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