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Cary Brunswick

October 24, 2009

E-books bring ease but lose familiar thrill

I don't care what anybody says; when I read a book I want to hold cardboard and paper, and turn pages. I want to use a bookmark and lay the book on the table when I take a break.

When I finish reading it, I want to find a place in, or return it to, its rightful place on my library shelves.

But, I know, I'm old-fashioned and not quite with it if I can't handle computer or hand-held electronic screens, and get used to a scroll bar for moving to the page.

E-books.

The book-publishing business has been hurting in recent years, but the electronic-book phenomenon is providing a light at the end of some bleak times.

Publishers and observers have been wondering for years if people would actually read books on an electronic screen once the books were digitized. And now that so many books are available through numerous Internet sites, the answer to their musings no doubt will come soon.

Apparently, there's even more to books vs. computer screens than taste, preference and convenience. The New York Times published a forum last week about whether our brains were equipped to read e-books.

Well, we all know our brains can adjust to a lot of changes in habit, so I'm not sure that issue will hold back the trend to e-books that is going to get more and more intensive in the coming years.

According to the Association of American Publishers, only about 2 percent of book sales during the first half of this year were for e-books.

But that figure represents major growth in the market. The dollar sales amount jumped from $30 million during the first six months of 2008 to $81.5 million in the same period this year.

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Cary Brunswick

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