As the world shifts toward ebooks, printing presses are scrambling to keep up with the demands of consumers. The Great Recession followed by the introduction of the Amazon Kindle ebook reader put the industry into an existential crisis. As a result, many people in the industry predicted that printed books would soon be a thing of the past. In response, many companies began to reduce investment in the printing of books. However, since then, the demand for print books has continued to increase, and printers have been unable to keep up.
Print or e-book?
Ebooks and print books both have advantages and disadvantages. Ebooks have the advantage of being more flexible. They can be formatted better and have more features. For instance, some models have anti-glare screens for easier reading. Both formats are likely to continue to be popular in the future as technology improves.
The rise of e-books started in the early 2000s and became more mainstream in the 2010s. In that period, big companies began launching e-book readers and digital libraries became available to the general public. In 2013, e-book sales accounted for 20% of all book sales. At the time, many believed that e-books would eventually replace print books. Yet, it didn’t happen that way. In 2018, American publishers generated $26 billion in revenue, 74.7% of which came from paper books and the remaining 7.48% from eBooks.
While ebooks have become more popular in recent years, there’s still some debate over whether print books will ever completely disappear. While it’s true that e-books are more popular, there are still some authors who are sticking by their printed books. The late J.D. Salinger’s estate refused to allow publishers to digitalise his books and said that he wouldn’t want his writings to be obsolete.
Facsimiles are a growing trend in digital scholarly editions. They often include transcriptions, editorial comments, and TEI markup layers. They are a valuable complement to textual information, and can provide new insights into the original work. One example of this is the digital edition of the Codex Sinaiticus, which lets users delve deep into the layers of the original document.
Facsimile editions of books started to be produced during the 19th century, but the Great Depression severely curtailed production of these editions. Even so, some were produced in the 1930s and 1940s. These editions were often monochromes, and had less lavish covers. In addition, titles were dictated by political concerns. Some notable examples of this practice include the Schumann Jugend-Album Opus 68, Beethoven’s Funfte Symphony, and Weber’s Der Freischutz.
Eventually, facsimile editions of books will cease to be printed. After the 1950s, facsimile editions were made with photo-offset printing techniques. By the 1970s, the use of photo-offset presses had become more common, making it possible for more affordable reproductions to be made. Facsimile editions were produced by leading publishing houses, including the Insel Verlag in Leipzig, the Drei Masken Verlag in Munich, and the Wiener Philharmonischer Verlag in Vienna. During this time, lithographic specialty companies also came up, such as Albert Frisch in Berlin and C.G. Roder in Leipzig.
If we’re to be a nation of readers, then we must be open to the possibilities of e-books. eBooks are essential to many of us, and the government shouldn’t impose a tax on them. Instead, they can be returned for any reason up to 65 days after purchase. Other improvements to eBooks include compatibility with screen readers, browser magnification, and keyboard navigation. It may not be possible to stop producing physical books altogether, but millennials raised on mp3s and digital downloads are fueling the growth of physical books.
The Association of American Publishers (APA) recently reported that ebook sales have been declining. In the first six months of 2020, eBook revenues are down 12.7% compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, publisher sales to physical retailers are down 35.9% compared to the same period last year. Despite the decline in sales, Internet Archive made over a million books available for free. Some of the world’s largest publishers sued them for doing so, but the Internet Archive has fought back. During the first six months of 2020, eBooks in the Children’s and YA categories were up by 132.5% compared to the first six months of last year.
Meanwhile, publishers are trying to make ebooks less expensive for consumers. Currently, ebooks make up about 15% of the market in Australia. However, eBook sales have been plateauing over the past few years. In response to this, France is pushing for ebooks to be taxed equally to printed books.
Archive of the virtual
The Archive of the virtual books is a project of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. The project aims to provide access to knowledge for everyone. It has been working with other libraries for almost a decade to digitize and lend books through its CDL program. In doing so, it is helping readers across the globe and creating a vast library that can be freely accessed.
The Internet Archive also manages an extensive collection of digital media. Its collections are organized by media type and sub-categories. For example, the “Community” sub-collection contains general contributions from the public. Another sub-collection is the “Wayback Machine” which has hundreds of billions of web captures. This project is considered the world’s largest project for digitizing books.
While CDL protects libraries from copyright infringement, it also supports hundreds of archives and libraries around the world. It also supports the mission of serving the public by delivering free books online. These efforts have been recognized by governments and have led to the creation of rules aimed at ensuring that copyright laws do not hinder their mission. Unfortunately, many publishers would rather spend their money on lawyers than improve access to books. While the Archive is doing their part to protect libraries, they are facing a court battle.