12 August 2011
Printed books to become 'premium' item in future: panel
TORONTO—Authors and creative directors from the design and book publishing industries had two things in common during a panel discussion Thursday evening: They love printed books. And they see a future for printed books despite the rise of e-books.

From left is Lionel Gadoury, president of RGD; Laura Stein, creative director of communications at Bruce Mau Design; Scott Richardson, vice president and creative director of Random House Canada; Gilbert Li, founder of The Office of Gilbert Li; Margie Miller, creative director of Harlequin Enterprises; and Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail arts writer and novelist.

The Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario, a graphic design association, teamed up with Design Exchange on Bay Street in Toronto Aug. 11 to offer Book: Burning Questions, a discussion about the future of the book industry in Canada. "I'm a paper reader, I only read iPad [books] on a plane," said Scott Richardson, vice president and creative director of publisher Random House Canada. Margie Miller, creative director of Harlequin Enterprises, added, "If I'm reading something on Kindle and I'm moved by it, I go out and buy the print book."

Richardson said the enjoyment of shopping in a store still remains. "I don't think anyone browses Amazon[.com] ... whereas in a book store they go in not knowing what they want and see something that got their attention," he said. Richardson said while covers on printed books have an impact, he doesn't feel e-book covers on a computer screen grab the same way. But Miller disagreed, noting that when buying books online there's usually a lineup of other books shown that the consumer might like. "I'll go to the one that catches my eye," she said.

Lionel Gadoury, Laura Stein and Scott Richardson

The group collectively agreed that printed books may become a "premium" product in the future. "I think we're going to see more distinction, a reason to buy both," said Miller. Print-on-demand is making print more viable for publishers as well, noted the panel. "Gone are the days of printing 25,000 copies when you get an order for 25 from Indigo," said Richardson.

Richardson said he'd like to see printed books at $50 but also offering the best possible product. "The cheaper a book becomes, the less value it's perceived to have," he said. Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail arts writer and novelist, added, "If you don't pay for content, there won't be any content." Taylor also noted the problem with online writing "is that it's in an arena where everyone expects it to be free."
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