I’ll keep this short. All the fascinating analyses on which Luca Sofri bases his statement on the End of books (already cautiously downsized by Massimo Mantellini’s comments) have a serious defect: they don’t contain any real numbers. A habit (this non-documentation) we see a little too often and in which it would be better not to indulge, at least when going so far as to make quantifiable and measurable predictions, like the end (or not) of a product.
Not including even just one number, I can say with complete peace of mind that what Sofri says is not true; it has already been proven wrong by facts in the USA market, it’s already happening in the UK, and it will happen progressively in all the other markets following close on its heels. Here’s how it works: the paper book market (just like the newspaper and magazine market before it and thus, more precisely, the market of printed paper) is no longer sustainable, and gradually declines. Thanks to the ebook (currently important only in the trade sector, fiction and non-fiction, i.e., the good old book made up entirely or almost entirely of text) the overall value of the market has been on an upswing already for two years now. And the number of copies distributed (given that the average price of the ebook is lower than that of paper books) has increased even further. In short: the ebook more than compensates for the slump in paper books; avid readers are increasingly migrating to the ebook, and they read even more books than before; in subways and on trains there are always a few people, old and young alike, reading an ebook while travelling.
Someone will undoubtedly object, saying that I don’t provide any numbers to support my claims either. I do that on purpose. Oh I have my numbers, I’m just not revealing them. I’m not the one who shot his mouth off about the end of books. I’ll publish my numbers only when Luca discloses his, if he has any.
[BONUS HINT: rather than the end of the book, we’re witnessing the end of the power system built around the paper book, its technology and production chain. It happens, with digital, and not just to the book.] [Disclaimer: books, in the form of ebooks, are my livelihood.]