I did a book signing at The Festival of Books in Los Angeles this past weekend where the estimated there were 150,000 people who made it out to the University of Southern California over the course of two days.
Indeed, it was packed. Children’s books, cook books, YA lit, Romance, Fantasy, on and on and on and on. And two things struck me while weaving through a sea of people.
1) Those who proclaim the printed book is dead are off-base. Way off-base. It was wall-to-wall people and wall-to-wall books and, most significantly, wall-to-wall people who love printed books. Indeed, e-books have been born but just as people suspected once-upon-a-time that paperbacks would kill hardbacks and television would kill radio, I just do not think that e-books are going to kill printed books. The CD killed the cassette tape; the same is not gonna happen in reading.
2) They had more than 300 authors, more than 500,000 books, more than, as mentioned, 150,000 people and I swear, not once did I see anything at all pertaining to e-reading. It made me think as I walked through row after row after row that people are underestimating the physical community of books that books provide to us as well. Even though reading is solitary, book groups, book shops, book festivals, libraries and so on, all provide physical interaction with other people. I mean are we all going to willingly devolve into hermits. Yes, Amazon might provide that opportunity – and we might save a wee bit of cash buying tax free, online reading materials available in one-click format – but are we going to choose NOT to want to be in the presence of one another? Human beings are social creatures and books can often lead to socially interacting with the some of the most interesting types of people.
Is our holing ourselves up in a wi-fi hovel to read, read, read digital, digital, digital books actually something that represents a choice we actually will be wanting to choose for ourselves once the honeymoon of digital availability wears off? Not say I know for sure, but it might.