Killer read: The slow death of the printed book is claiming more and more victims. First, big chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders wiped out the independent corner bookshop. Now the megastores face their own adapt-or-die agenda with the arrival of e-books. Initially rejected as an inferior way to read, consumer e-books are suddenly soaring in sales, which are expected to hit $2 billion next year. Booksellers including Amazon have launched e-readers like the Kindle Fire shown above, but the damage isn’t over. Borders recently declared bankruptcy, and Barnes & Noble, despite winning 26 percent of the e-book market with its Nook e-reader, is losing money too.
The message is clear—tablet readers are the future of books. And the upheaval doesn’t stop at bookstores. With unknown authors selling millions of e-books by word of mouth, the trend spells disruption for the publishers, literary agents, and book lists that once acted as the gatekeepers of what we read.