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Are e-readers better than printed books?
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The e-reader has negatively impacted the traditional publishing industry

Preferring to read a physical book over an electronic format is not just a matter of taste or convenience. E-books are economically impacting the publishing industry at large, changing the types of jobs the industry generates and the types of books that are being published.
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The Argument

The rise of the e-reader are drastically changing the way the publishing industry operates: 'The publishing industry’s traditional supply chain will be faster and shorter, and the associated costs will be proportionally less.'[1] This new, shorter supply chain might be more efficient and cost-effective, but what about the jobs created by the supply chain, such as production, printing, warehouse, retail staff? Are e-readers eliminating more jobs than they are creating? It is also incredibly hard to track and monitor the sales of e-books and their impact on the publishing industry. It is clear that Amazon have a monopoly over the e-book industry, however they refuse to publish their exact sales figures: 'Amazon doesn’t report its ebook sales to any of the major industry data sources, and it doesn’t give authors more than their own personal slice of data.'[2] But this is not for lack of trying, many independent analysts have attempted to clarify Amazon's exact percentage share of the e-book market.[3] This lack of accountability of a company with such a massive stake-hold in this industry shows the murky waters in which electronic publishing lies. Publishing houses must rely on Amazon to distribute their titles to the majority of the public, which account for around 15% of overall sales revenue.[3]

Counter arguments

The question of technology eliminating jobs is an archaic and often overused argument. Traditional industries adapting to technological advancements has long since changed the nature of jobs, such as 'when factory workers were widely replaced with machines to increase productivity, new equipment being adopted by farmers to allow them to harvest crops at a faster pace.'[4] While the digitization of literature might be changing the types of jobs available, it creates new tech-based roles: ‘Even though online content does not have any sort of physical inventory, transportation, or logistics, there exists a complex chain of transactions including the sale, distribution, syndication, copyright protection, and re-use of this content.’[1]


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 22:00 UTC

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