The book shelves might not be groaning, but books themselves keep being written ... and read. I am not sure if there actually are fewer paper books, or if there are just fewer hard copies of each book. Readers are in a period of flux it is true, where one can chose to read off the page or off the screen. I strongly suspect that when this time of transition settles into its conclusion, each person who wants to purchase and enjoy a paper book will be able to do so.
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A Tumultuous Year in Books
by Peter Osnos
Borders fell and Kindle soared as more and more people adopted e-readers
This has been a tumultuous year for the book business, a time of profound change in the way books are distributed and read. It is no exaggeration to say that the widespread acceptance of digital devices and a simultaneous contraction of shelf-space in stores qualify as a historic shift. The demise of Borders, the country's second-largest book chain as recently as a year ago, was largely offset by the sale of millions of e-readers and electronic books on a vast scale in a market now dominated by Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google. In May, Amazon announced that it was selling more e-books than print books. On "Black Friday," November 25, Amazon said it had sold four times as many Kindles in a single day as it did in 2010. At this rate, it seems increasingly likely that e-books will match printed books in the next few years, and eventually overtake them.
The popularity of multi-use tablets--Apple's iPads, the Kindle Fire (which has drawn criticism for a variety of technical glitches), B&N's Nook, and several others--has been another dominant feature of the year, serving up thousands of apps for games, music, magazines, and news sites, depending on your choice of device and price. As measured by IHS iSuppli research, and reported in the New York Times, Apple will ship about 18.6 million iPads in this quarter; the Kindle Fire, which went on sale in November, will sell about four million devices; and the Nook tablet will ship 1.3 million. While tablets have scores of uses, e-books have so far held their own as defining attractions in the digital era. Their role is reminiscent of the way DVDs transformed the movie business in the 1990s, posing a major challenge for theaters while expanding the market for players to be used at home.