?The printed page/ was just half a millennium?s brief wonder,? theorized John Updike in a late poem. Exactly when the old order will be completely overthrown is in some dispute, however.
The original thinking was that digital books would triumph very soon, and in some quarters this notion has persisted. ?I?m hearing from publishers that the percent of e-books keeps rising as expected,? said James McQuivey, a Forrester analyst. ?They tell me to expect e-books to reach half of all books sold sometime between the end of 2013 and the first half of 2014.? But in recent months there have been frequent reports that e-book sales might be cresting. That would shift the dynamics, giving breathing space to publishers laboring to make the digital transition and perhaps forestalling what some fear will be the total domination of Amazon.
A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project will not give much comfort to those who want to hang on, for better or worse, to the printed past.
Sales of dedicated e-book readers may have peaked last year, but the percentage of Americans owning one rose to 19 percent from 10 percent. Readers of printed books, meanwhile, fell to 67 percent from 72 percent.
Regardless of where they do it, the Pew study presented what seems a fairly upbeat picture of reading. Readers consumed an average of 15 books in the previous year. Fourteen percent of the respondents read 21 or more books. The sample size of respondents was 2,252.