Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do E-books Smell Like Burned Fuel?

BookExpo America ran their annual conference a couple of weeks ago in New York City with some interesting, and controversial, presentations and statements. Here's some highlights from various sources. Let's start with some industry eco-footprint stats from Business Week:

- 8.9 pounds of emissions per book.
- 30 million trees consumed per year by the industry.
- Recycled paper is now used for 13% of book pages.

There was a lot of discussion about increasing the use of recycled paper and cutting back on the number of trees consumed for book and then things shifted to electronic-books (e-books). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos got some discussion going with a talk about the Kindle but, according to Yahoo News, his talk disappointed many attendees, who had hoped that he would announce some major news, but it did continue the ongoing discussion of the e-future.

Publisher Simon & Schuster did announce they would make thousands of additional titles available on the Kindle, including "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury, who was at the Expo, is quoted in the Yahoo News piece saying "There is no future for e-books because they are not books....... E-books smell like burned fuel."

Also according to Yahoo News, the industry is in transition - new annual releases keep increasing (more than 276,000, according to researchers R.R. Bowker), while the number of books purchased is expected to drop, according to a report by the Book Industry Study Group, an industry-supported organization. In addition, core American Booksellers Association (ABA) membership dropped to 1,524 as of this spring, 56 fewer than the year before, and booksellers filled less than half of the roughly 500 chairs set up for a meeting at the Expo.

I wonder what Guy Montag would have to say about all this!

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