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06 August 2010

News on Paper Books Grows Ever More Dire, But Reaction Is Generally Encouraging

Again, the Wall Street Journal is first to report yet another slice closer towards the death of a thousand paper cuts of traditionally printed bound books.  Dorchester, a venerable publisher since 1971 of mass market paperbacks -- those "pocket books" made of the least expensive paper with the narrowest margins possible in order to be able to sell them at the current pricing of $7.99 (83% of Dorchester's books are at this price point, still lower than a pre-iPad-era download), is abandoning this model and "going digital."

Of the factors to have led to a 25% drop in book sales, one specifically cited in the article is the notion 65% of Dorchester's titles are romances and many readers of romance novels prefer a digital download, because they don't have to hide the cover when reading in public.  I guess there are still a lot of closet romance readers.  Read Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels and Unite!

However, they will still be printing, through wholesaler Ingram Book Company's Lightening Print-on-Demand service -- which Books on First uses, which is a wonderful happy bridge between printing tens of thousand of paper copies to printing none at all.  A printed bound book is only made when ordered.  I wrote about this oh, so long ago.   

What I always find interesting to read are the online comments to such articles.  I find it gratifying that a couple of them (out of only 5 total thus far at the time of this writing) still express a desire to have printed bound books, whether to share with friends and family or for "curling up" and reading a "'real' book" after a long day of staring at a computer screen.  Amen.

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