All I Want For Christmas
With the holiday season rapidly approaching, a growing number of publishers, authors and distributors are hoping they'll see more electronic books on consumers' wish lists.
But many wonder if the reading public is ready to make the leap into a purely digital literary experience. For this reason, most major print publishers have refrained from running headlong into the e-book market, and instead, offer electronic versions of select titles. Others, such as Random House and Harper Collins, took the chance of setting up e-book imprints of their own, with varying degrees of success.
To fully understand the e-publishers' dilemma requires an investigation of a bibliophile's unique relationship with the book they hold in their hand. The clean, fresh smell of a new hardcover, the crisp feel of the paper between the thumb and forefinger, the well-worn look of a favorite old paperback, even the sound of a page being turned—all conspire to make reading a sensory experience far beyond a simple method of comprehending words and sentences.
Rikke Bjorneboe Johansen, author of the essay "The Book and the Internet: Booktrade in the 21st Century", suggests that for many people, an electronic book symbolizes something primarily utilitarian, more a medium for information than a work of art.
"It is interesting that when it is suggested that the e-book should be used for technical books and other reference works people generally think it is a great idea, but as soon as it is suggested that it should also be used to read fiction most people are less enthusiastic," says Johansen. "Perhaps the reason for this attitude can be attributed to the fact that people, who love to read, also love the physical book itself."
He explains, "The physical experience [of shopping for books] is not limited to people meeting people but also includes the act of seeing and touching the books. Browsing, impulse purchasing, actually looking at and holding a book are important aspects that may be the strongest things the bricks-and-mortars stores have going for them."