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Paper books defeating e-books

Posted December. 20, 2017 08:20,   

Updated December. 20, 2017 09:01


As power outage was common in the past, every house had to have emergency candles. Do candles disappear as concerns about power outage disappeared? Of course not. As natural scented candles have become popular for aromatherapy or home décor items, scented candle shops open here and there. They have been recognized with their new value that makes life richer and more enjoyable, beyond the function of simply lighting the darkness.

Paper books, which had their “fall” foretold when e-books appeared but are still standing firm, could be interpreted in a similar context. When Amazon, the world’s largest online bookstore, released Kindle, an e-book device, on Nov. 19, 2007, the company were so confident that the developer even chose Kindle as “one of the most important inventions of the mankind, alongside antibiotics and electricity.” The publishing industry fell into despair, saying, “Paper books are doomed.” It has been 10 years since Kindle was released, but a question mark is still attached to the quote “the e-book’s overwhelming victory.”

France is dubbed as a country where paper books “fight well.” When e-books landed in France in 2011, there was an outlook that offline bookstores and paper books would become extinct within three years. It has turned out to be a wrong outlook, however. E-books make a meager 3 percent of the French publication market, while there are 3,300 local bookstores nationwide. This is the result of the cooperation of the French government, publishers and bookstores. An anti-Amazon act was created in France to put the brakes on free shipping and price reductions, and bookstores made a joint online platform. France has acted a bit eccentric, as it values traditions, but the United States is not different. E-book sales in the United States decreased by 18.7 percent last year, while paper book sales increased. Amazon, seemingly recognizing this, has opened seven offline bookstores since 2015.

Books are not only means of delivering intellectual information, but the media that digs deeply into human sensibility. With crisp sound of turning the pages, the texture of paper and the smell of ink, paper book provides cultural satisfaction simply with its very existence and is the concentration of analog sensibility, which e-books cannot even mimic. This is the reason why humanists treasure books, as much as reading them. Just like paper books, newspaper also has charms and excitement that cannot be replaced by digitalized media. The future of paper book and newspaper, connected as if they have common destiny, is a subject of curiosity.