What the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook Can Learn from Vinyl Records

Leather Bound Books

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany,” noted anchorman Ron Burgundy.  Would “a Kindle and many e-books” have been as impressive?

People obviously love books, but many love the idea of books more than the actual books themselves. There aren’t many things more impressive than a big bookshelf full of books in someone’s home.  A CD collection very rarely matches the respect levels of a book collection.

Additionally, many readers feel an emotional attachment to books.  The very thought of abandoning the traditional paper page is upsetting for many.  Based on conversations, it seems that the current attachment to physical books is much stronger than the attachment to physical CDs during the rise of the iPod.

In this digital entertainment age, vinyl records have been making a surprising comeback.  Sales are up across the board. Walk into any respectable music store and you’ll likely find rows of vinyl. Outside of the large artwork and distinct sound (that nearly everyone had written off as inferior), what would possibly be a unique selling point for a record?

Two years ago, some independent labels started packaging records with a download code for an MP3 version of the album as well.  The best of both worlds! Consumers could revel in their traditional packaged purchase, but also have a digital copy delivered so that they can access the content on their PC and iPod.

This seems to make almost too much sense for the book industry.  Consumers would have the tangible book to sit on the shelf and read while at home, but also a digital copy for portability. Who really wants to lug around a 400 page book?

But most importantly, how else will people know you’re smart and have good taste in music without leather bound volumes and enormous vinyl collections?