Time Magazine recently released numbers that reveal e-book sales in January outpaced hardcover sales for the first time in history. This is no major shock to anyone who’s not been in a coma for the past two years, nonetheless, it’s a little weird to see the pecking order of best selling book formats rearranged for the first time since the advent of paperback publishing.
As of January, 2011:
The obvious trend toward digital book consumption barrels onward. As a result, the counter trend I’ve been predicting for the past year is coming ever closer to reality: demand for a more sensually immersive reading experience than digital can provide. Specifically; the texture, weight, smell and prestige of custom, hand-made, leather bound books.
No longer is the hardcover book second only to paperback in distribution, it’s third. Furthermore, the experiential gap between consuming a hardcover book and the digital format which ousted it is larger than that between it and its former forerunner, the paperback. As the whole world continues to get swept away in the digital consumption tidal wave, a hungry few will emerge demanding more. They’ll be the most avid of readers; impassioned loyalists of literary genres; super-fans of specific authors, and they’ll want a prouder, more nostalgic, more substantive reading experience than a scrolling list of titles on a digital toy.
I may or may not be able to bring my on-demand leather binding business idea to life, but it’s an inevitable outgrowth of the digital trend. Those who recognize and act on it will be handsomely rewarded.