Posts Tagged ‘digital books’

Book Reader vs. Book Owner?

June 11th, 2011

John Makinson, CEO of Penguin Group, in a Wall Street Journal q&a recently stated:

“There is a growing distinction between the book reader and the book owner. The book reader just wants the experience of reading the book, and that person is a natural digital consumer: instead of a disposable mass market book, they buy a digital book.

The book owner wants to give, share and shelve books. They love the experience.

As we [Penguin Books] add value to the physical product, particularly the trade paperback and hardcover, the consumer will pay a little more for the better experience.”

So Penguin expects there to be a clear & growing division between ‘readers’ and ‘owners’ of books.  I think this distinction is somewhat artificial, but it does help justify their policy to enhance books & increase prices: books as collectables.


Bookshops, according to Penguin’s CEO’s suggestions, would seem to be in jeopardy unless they morph into heritage- type gift shops. Bookshop customers are expected to decline in numbers, so either they would need to be prepared to spend more or books would need to be more profitable to the bookshops.

These developments may not sit entirely comfortably with all booksellers- some may hesitate to pursue the path of purely objectifying more expensive books; most bookshops are likely to pursue a canny compromise: a  watchful strategy that will include stocking paperback books as basic entertainment & enlightenment, and also hardback books as valued possessions. Some independents will also encourage the e-buying public to use their bookshop websites [such as this one] to download digital content.