Many tablet computer users love electronic books, but it’s hard to wrap up an e-book and put it under the tree.
An eastern Iowa publisher recognizes the growing popularity of e-books but he isn’t concerned about them muscling out traditional ink-and-paper books.
Steve Semken, founder of Ice Cube Press in North Liberty, says he’s seen plenty of trends come and go in his 20-plus years of publishing books.
“What’s more important to me is that people are reading,” Sempken says. “I appreciate people reading a little bit more than I appreciate the way the book looks, so, in the end, I offer both things.”
Ice Cube Press publishes about six books a year, all from Midwestern authors, and they’re available in both formats. Semken says his craft is focused on how a book is made, how it looks, the different styles — how to present words on a page.
While e-books likely aren’t going away anytime soon, Semken also predicts e-book sales will not continue growing steadily, year after year.
“There’s always been a certain number of people that like to read hardcovers and there’s always been a certain number of people that like to read paperbacks,” Semken says. “I feel like there’s going to be a group of people that appreciate e-books, it’s just that at first, the numbers are going to rise because it’s new and then I think it’s going to level out.”
Today’s teenagers are growing up in an age where they own no vinyl records or cassettes and very few C-Ds, with most of their music stored only electronically, in M-P-3s.
While the new generation may be very attracted to e-books, the 49-year-old publisher says real books don’t need batteries.
“Even young people have a certain amount of screen fatigue,” Semken says. “I believe you’re going to have even younger people still appreciate the book.”
A publishing industry report says about one-fifth of all books sold in the U-S last year were e-books. That’s about $3-billion worth of e-books, an increase of 44% from 2011.