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What Books are Safe from the E-book Revolution?

Cover of "The Going-To-Bed Book"

Cover of The Going-To-Bed Book

I bet you never thought about this. I sure didn’t until I was hanging about with my friend Peter at the Toronto’s Word on the Street. What Books will be safe from the E-book Revolution?

We wandered around the venue and it was a great time. But Peter is sharper than I am and he picked up on a few things. He noticed right away that there were a lot of big publishers absent from the festivities. He also wasn’t impressed with many of the discounts. True, there were some smaller publishers trying to  move their remainders with sale prices as low as a buck a book. Generally the discounts were around 15%. Peter pointed out that when he worked Word on the Street for a major publisher, their discounts were deep but they made it up on volume. They moved a lot of books.

The other thing he noticed was that several children’s bookstores and publishers were represented. “Maybe they won’t have to cut so deep because they’ll be safe from the e-book cull,” he said.

I’d never thought about it, but yes, children’s bookstores should survive. When I think of children’s books, I think of treasured books from my youth. I still have Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s Ian Fleming‘s best work. (I loved many of the Bond movies, but the books don’t hold up.) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the Christmas I went to bed with a huge container of Smarties and ate and read until I had no appetite for the Christmas turkey.

When I think of my own kids’ books, an e-book version just wouldn’t do. I can’t read Sandra Boynton‘s The Going to Bed Book* on a screen to my baby! And what if the kid throws up on my iPad? Unacceptable! Besides, little kids are fascinated with the turning of the pages of actual books.

Also, the scholastic market needs children’s readers. School budgets won’t allow for electronic readers for all those kids. Also, little kids with sticky fingers would constantly smear your screen as you read to them.

Taking this logic one step further, it occurs to me that cookbooks might be sustainable. You don’t want to get buttery fingers on your Kindle. However, maybe people will just print off individual pages unless they are really devoted cookbooks fans (there is a wild foodie sub-culture.) There are tons of free recipes available online, so if you have a printer, you’ll never really need to buy a cookbook again unless you look at cookbooks like a dying scuba diver looks at a fresh oxygen tank.

I don’t know what books will be immune. What do you think?

*If you have little kids or know someone who does, you must go buy The Going to Bed Book. It’s very sweet. I read it to my kids so often I can still recite it. We had a massive purge of our children’s library because the kids were getting too old for a lot of the books on the shelves. Sandra Boynton’s book is one of those we kept. We always will.

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