E-Books Turning Page on Paper Book Sellers

NEW YORK - At printing presses all over the country, the e-book is the enemy.

The same goes for chains of bookstores. Borders filed for bankruptcy Wednesday. It will close 200 of its more than 600 stores. Six thousand employees could lose their jobs. One reason for Borders' troubles: It was slow to jump on the e-book wave, CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports.

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"E-books this year affected our business maybe 8 to 10 percent," Dave Leiss, owner of a Pennsylvania printing press, said.

Leiss said his company is printing 50 million fewer books a year. As the prices of e-readers have plummeted, e-book sales have taken off.

"I enjoy just having a whole library in my knapsack," one man said.

Amazon.com says on its website that sales of digital books have surpassed sales of hard covers and now paperbacks.

E-books still account for only about 9 percent of overall book sales even with that growth. But a recent survey of publishing executives predicts that within just three years, half of all books sold will be e-books.

"It's been much more like a tsunami than an evolution," Open Road Integrated Media CEO Jane Friedman said.

After 40 years in print publishing, Friedman has started a new all-digital company.

"The e-book is the center of the universe," said Friedman. "The e-book is what it's all about."

And Open Road Integrated Media is growing fast.

In the past year, the company published 430 e-books. Friedman said she expects her company to publish 2,000 e-books next year.

Friedman believes e-books cater to a growing desire for convenience.

"You're reading a feature about an author, and you're one click away to purchase that author's book," said Friedman. "That's the best of all possible worlds."

But for bookstores?

"What do you think, it's disastrous," said Otto Penzler, owner of New York's Mysterious Bookshop, which specializes in autographed mysteries and also publishes limited editions. "That's kept us alive for the last four or five years."

But Penzler, who sells whodunnits, knows he's being stalked by a killer.

"Every time somebody buys a Kindle or a Nook or a Sony Reader or whatever, it's just another nail in the coffin of independent bookshops, including mine," Penzler said.

Said another store owner, "It's akin to having a buggy whip factory in the era of Henry Ford; you can do it, but the writing is on the wall."

Or in this case, the screen.

  • Anthony Mason
    Anthony Mason

    CBS News senior business and economics correspondent; Co-host, "CBS This Morning: Saturday"