By: Joleene DesRosiers Moody
It was when Amazon introduced the Kindle e-reader in 2007 that the technological concept of the e-book really took off.
Despite the fact that the Sony Data Discman and other early e-readers made their appearance in the early 1990s, it wasn’t until this decade that e-books became commonplace with booklovers and researchers across the globe.
And, while many felt the electronic device would cause the demise of all bookstores as we know them, some shop owners recognized they only way to survive the technological surge was to stand up and ride the wave.
That’s the philosophy of Bill Reilly, proprietor of the rivers end bookstore in Oswego.
“When I first opened the bookstore, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was that I should make it easy for my customers to buy books from me. So whatever form my customers want their reading material in, I make it available to them,” Reilly said. “When e-readers started selling, there was no question in my mind that we needed to jump on board. We embraced it. And I think the bookstores that haven’t embraced it aren’t doing so well.”
Reilly is so on board with the electronic reading option, that he hosts a series of events at his bookstore to help educate his customers on how to download content.
“We have an e-reader night where we invite our friends from Barnes and Noble to the store to put on a presentation and show our customers how to use their Nook to purchase from the rivers end bookstore website,” he added.
Time and Again Books and Tea 18 E. Utica St., Oswego, doesn’t subscribe to the e-book option.
As a bookstore that houses rare and out-of-print books, owner Deborah Engelke says the technology doesn’t cater to her customers, even though today’s print-on-demand options make such titles and rarities readily available.
“The price of an e-reader is little prohibitive for my customers, which is why they buy used books,” Engelke said. “It’s within their budget. They may be upper-middle class, but have an interest in physically holding and owning a rare book. Or they may be middle class and have children in soccer or other activities, and that can exhaust a salary. So they take a back seat to brand new books.”
But, how does the electronic trend affect today’s authors?
How does it affect their sales? Is it worth making their book available for e-readers?
Dee Marie, local author of Sons Of Avalon: Merlin’s Prophecy, believes so.
“I think the e-reader is fantastic,” she said. “And actually, authors get more money from their e-sales then they do from their printed sales. We get a higher percentage because there is no printing and no shipping involved. So we get a bigger chunk of the pie than we would with a printed book.”
Regina Edwards Drumm, local romance author of Fancy Pants, says e-books have saved the publishing industry.
“I think e-books have been good for the market. With the way the economy has been over the last several years, the publishing industry has taken a huge hit. With the Kindle, Nook, and apps you can download to your ipad and smartphone, people are still able to afford books. Personally, my books are available for Nook, Kindle and in print,” said Drumm. “I have sold more e-books than print books and actually make more money from e-books because there are no costs for printing it.”
So authors thrive and bookstore owners contemplate. Nonetheless, the written word is still king, whether it be electronically or traditionally.
“I think we’re seeing a plateau of e-book sales at the moment, “Reilly said. “They’ve got a piece of the pie, maybe 16% or so, which is not insignificant. But that means that 84% of the books that are purchased are traditionally bound books. Will that change? I suspect it will continue to move in a digital direction, yes. I think there will be a balance at some point, too.”