I just got back from B.E.A. (Book Expo America), America’s biggest book trade event. I hadn’t been in a few years and it felt, not surprisingly, smaller than in the past. There were lots of people (librarians, publishers, editors, writers, etc.) but when I inquired about actual buyers, I found that they were not present in abundance. There are simply a lot fewer book retailers than there used to be. People who love books, and I am one of them, have to feel a bit despondent over this course of events, but the world does continue to change.
There were a few game companies present (Blue Orange Games, Thinkfun and USAopoly to name a few). There were also a number of children’s book companies present (Twin Sisters, Publications International, Bendon and Carson-Dellosa among others). Again, it seemed like there were fewer than in past years.
As I walked the floor I saw the long lines for author book signings. As I watched the lines move it suddenly hit me: "How will authors of the future sign eBooks?" I mean, what exactly is there to sign?
In the same light, it occurred to me that collectors of the future will not be able to buy, sell, collect or invest in first edition eBooks? A first edition of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens now goes for
$55,000. What if they had eBooks when Dickens was writing?
And that’s not all, old eBooks won’t have a musty smell, a pristine dust jacket or the original owner’s name inscribed somewhere in the book making you wonder who that person was and if they liked the book. Nope, eBooks can’t do that.
Let me be clear…I have a Kindle and I like it, though I am not sure you can actually love a Kindle like you can a beautifully bound book. I still love, however, meandering through used bookstores in hopes that something special will happen. Perhaps an Oz book that is missing from my collection.
I guess I could just download it. Somehow, though, it just wouldn’t be the same.