Sony: E-books are here to stay (so get used to it)

Sony says there will be more digital book content than physical book content within five years. Or, in English, e-books will overtake “regular” books by 2015. This is terrible news for people like Devin and John, people who appreciate books not merely for the words they contain but for the form they take. It’s less of an issue for people like me, people who are, in fact, merely interested in reading the words, whether they’re on paper or papyrus or on an e-ink screen.

The president of the digital reading business division, Steve Haber, said that the company is now noticing the same trends that it saw in the music business and the photography business. It’s a long march toward digitization. Do people still buy film [cameras] and CDs and vinyl? Yeah, sure, but a whole heck of a lot more people will buy a cheap-o digital camera or download a single song from iTunes and be done with it.

It marks the first time in at least 100 years that book publishers have had to change the way they do things. The concept of killing a bunch of trees, printing page after page, binding them all together, then packing ’em up and sending them to retail stores here and there. That costs quite a bit of money. It’s much cheaper just to have a server farm somewhere and letting people download books on demand. No leftover inventory, no having to pay for a fleet of trucks to take books here there and everywhere, and so on.

It’s the way of the future, like it or not.

Again, I don’t mind the transition to digital books. I’m even fine with black-and-white electronic ink: I don’t need color when all I’m doing is reading something by Michio Kaku or Carl Sagan. I can see where it wouldn’t be so great, for things like textbooks or photography books: reading that on a smallish screen isn’t so hot.

Not that any of the above is “breaking news,” mind you, just that the big players in electronics and the publishing industry are now getting used to the idea of e-books taking over.