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  1. #1

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    The Future of Books

    Reading the different threads on eReaders as well as some other stuff online, what do you think the future of books will be?

    Are we headed to a future where our children and grandchildren will have only read eBooks? Will pulp books become like vinyl records (more niche like as opposed to mainstream)? If eBooks become the norm, will this be a good or bad development for books or simply a neutral effect of technology on books?

    Different views on the future of books:

    http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/06/physical-book-dead/ (Physical book will be dead in five years):

    The physical book is dead, according to Negroponte. He said he realizes that’s going to be hard for a lot of people to accept. But you just have to think about film and music. In the 1980s, the writing was on the wall that physical film was going to die, even though companies like Kodak were in denial. He then asked people to think about their youth with music. It was all physical then. Now everything has changed.
    http://www.idealog.com/blog/the-prin...th-to-oblivion (The printed book’s path to oblivion):

    It seems reasonable to me (although not to every forward-thinking observer of the march of digital events) that by five years from now half of immersive reading — straight text novels and non-fiction — could have moved from paper to devices.

    But for those who question the idea that the switch from paper to screens will ultimately be just about total, let me offer a way to think about it.

    The critical thing to remember is that, indeed, the book was more-or-less perfected hundreds of years ago. There have been improvements in printing, binding, typography, and paper quality that are not trivial, but that also represent no quantum leap in user benefit. Indeed, defenders of the paper book and advocates suggesting it has a permanent role, point to that fact as support for their belief.

    I think it argues the opposite.

    The ebook, unlike the paper book, advances every month, if not every day. Screens and the reading platforms they run just keep improving: they get cheaper, lighter, more flexible, more capabilities-rich and there are ever more choices of them. Battery life gets longer. They develop the ability to take your notes, keyed in or handwritten. They develop the ability to share your notes or organize your notes automatically. They’ve had built-in dictionaries for a long time (a feature of the very first Kindle nearly three years ago) and now they often offer the ability to get to Wikipedia or a Google search in a click as well.
    http://www.booktryst.com/2010/08/e-p...-shatzkin.html (E-Publishing Consultant Mike Shatzkin Doesn’t Understand Books-a response the blog post linked above):

    There’s an underlying issue at play in all of this, the fundamental that books, in whatever their form, are simply text delivery systems. That sort of reductionist approach is true enough - whether ancient papyrus scroll, manuscript copy, printed book, or digital text the essential point is to distribute the written-word product of someone’s thinking - but the down to earth reality is quite different.

    Before books were printed, they were laboriously copied by hand and the text was often illustrated - illuminated - by artists of great skill. The book, very soon, became more than the text. The hundreds of years of perfecting the book were more than technical progression. A large measure of the book’s development has been due to it’s excellence as a medium of artistic expression, whether through its binding, the quality and appearance of its printing, etc. Long ago, books became a gestalt experience, the actual content surely its primary raison d’etre but not the only reason to appreciate and enjoy them.
    Last edited by modern_muslimah; 02-09-2011 at 10:45 PM.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

  2. #2
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    I don't think books will become obsolete. You cannot duplicate those "Coffee Table" pictures books, for example, with eReaders ...unless in the future the entire surface of your coffee table is an HD screen that allow you to look coffee table books while you sit.

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    Obsolete.....I don't think so. However it will change the way we read. Three of my grandchildren have Kindles and they read like fiends. It has been great for them. It brings the access ability of books right to their fingertips.

    But for pictures, biographies (with photos) and for lots of different kinds of books...it isn't appropriate. Sort of like there will always be theater.....even though we can see most everything on TV.
    DH - and that's just my opinion

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    Well, Jean-Luc Picard was still reading printed paper books in the 24th century ...

    But seriously, I think this will be an issue dictated more by resources & the producers than by what consumers demand. I do think there could come a day when novels -- particularly mass-produced novels -- are available only in ebook form. And that to me will be very sad. Until the day comes when I can buy second-hand e-books for less than $2, loan them freely to my friends, and borrow them for free from the library*, I still want my books in sold paper form, thank you very much.

    (*Yes, libraries are getting on the e-book bandwaggon, but at least in my area the offerings are very limited.)

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    I'm not sure that I want to live in a world that doesn't have books. Libraries with shelves filled to the brim with wonderful books. The feel of the pages as you turn them. Using a favorite bookmarker. The faint, musty smell of a vintage book.

    Some of the best friends I have ever had have been books. I enjoy looking at my bookcase and seeing them all there - somehow, it's very comforting...
    Nubka - Unpaid Slave Laborer...

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    I'm sure I'll get with the ebook program eventually, but when I do I'll probably be like this guy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zQgEqDdvuo


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    I wont be buying ebooks until the prices go down. I have yet to figure out why the cost is so high when it is in digital format. Too much for me to pay, if I am going to spend that much then I want a physical copy to put on a shelf.

    This is the same for movies on iTunes and such. Why am I paying $4.99 to rent a new movie on iTunes??? It probably costs them $ .10 to send that movie over the internet. Are licensing fees that expensive?
    -Brian
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    I read a lot (both fiction and non). So far I haven't felt the need for an e-reader. However, I don't travel for my job and live in a major city with plenty of bookstores new and used, and libraries. If I ever felt limited in my choices of titles in hard copy or it became inconvenient to find them, I would probably get one.

    At this point it seems like it would be a nuisance to have another electronic device to keep track of, charge, update, etc.

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    I hope not. I love holding a book in my hand and turning the pages. I love seeing them lined up on my book shelf!

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    I think books might disappear...but literature won't. And is that such a bad thing? Books kill forests

    I HATE books. I've moved 4 times in the past 5 years and books have become the bane of my existence. I love reading them, but I hate packing them and moving boxes and boxes of them. I'm in the process of selling off as many as I can on Amazon to buy an e-reader.

    Well...I don't really hate them. I'm just not happy with them right now. Nor is my back

  11. #11
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    I am a book hoarder, and my children are all book hoarders. My oldest daughter just had one entire wall of her family room converted to bookshelves. She is collecting books because she is convinced the bookapocalypse is rapidly approaching. She takes very good care of all her books. Don't even mention an e-reader in her hearing, or you'll trigger a ten minute rant.

    My younger daughter and I also hoard books, but we read them in the bathtub, and while eating and we dogear our pages and break the spines. There is no way an e-reader can replace books for us. I hate reading fiction on a computer screen, it feels very wrong spatially to me. I need the side by side pages, and page numbers, and thicker on one side and then on the other as I near the end of the book.

    I'm afraid that new books will soon become very expensive, and I love my paperbacks!
    ‎"You emerge victorious from the maze you've been travelling in." Oct 21,2012- Best Fortune Cookie Ever!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    I hope not. I love holding a book in my hand and turning the pages. I love seeing them lined up on my book shelf!
    This. There's just something about holding the book in my hand-maybe I'm weird, but I like being able to turn the pages for myself, and I like the smell of books (I'm a book nerd, don't mind me... )

    Ever since I first saw Beauty & the Beast when I was little, I've always intended to have my own personal library in my house someday. Granted, my expectations are a bit more reasonable than they were before (I no longer envision my library taking up an entire, cavernous room in a castle) but I still want a special space for all my books with somewhere special for me to read them.

    I might consider the Kindle or Nook or whatever for textbooks someday, but that's it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AxelAnnie View Post
    But for pictures, biographies (with photos) and for lots of different kinds of books...it isn't appropriate.
    I have an e-reader and photos look just fine on it . Give it a few years and photos will look even better.

    What are the other kinds of books you think would be inappropriate for an e-reader?

    Quote Originally Posted by BigB08822 View Post
    I wont be buying ebooks until the prices go down. I have yet to figure out why the cost is so high when it is in digital format. Too much for me to pay, if I am going to spend that much then I want a physical copy to put on a shelf.
    That's an interesting question. I went to a seminar on e-books and the leader of the seminar said that he expects e-book prices to go down as they become more common; it is the nature of the market for prices to drop as something becomes more common.

    However, I just read an article by a publishing consultant who said that he expects the prices to go up as e-books become more available and the devices more common, because of what e-books will do to the publishing industry as a whole.

    And while it probably costs less than ten cents for someone to send a movie or book over the internet, that isn't the only cost involved. If people don't make a profit on their business, there is no reason for them to engage in said business. That paperback book you are willing to pay for and put on your shelf might cost you seven dollars, but it probably cost the publisher less than a dollar. And even with that, most books lose money.

    I have an e-reader and I love it. It's different, but it has its own aesthetic. I do think books will die, although perhaps not as quickly as some are predicting. After all, newspapers are still (barely) hanging on, and I thought most of them would be gone by now.

    I would bet that some of you will find this article really interesting: I did.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/id...e_early_years/
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  14. #14

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    We're all thinking mainstream. What if you're into political books of say Nigeria? They won't be available on an ebook except perhaps in Nigeria. Whereas right now, I can go to my local library and find a book about politics in Nigeria. (it's just an example)

    And for us Cdn's, you can not get a lot of Cdn lit on any ebooks. I'm not saying that that won't change, but what if it doesn't for some countries?

    I think there's room for both mediums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pat c View Post
    We're all thinking mainstream. What if you're into political books of say Nigeria? They won't be available on an ebook except perhaps in Nigeria. Whereas right now, I can go to my local library and find a book about politics in Nigeria. (it's just an example)


    Why on earth would Nigerian e-books be available only in Nigeria? They're e-books. Click and download. Here are some places to start:

    www.nigerianebooks.com

    http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Elect.../dp/B003F76LKI

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sta.../9780739129920

    http://www.mystudio21.com/download-p...-security.html

    http://ebooks.ebookmall.com/title/de...ike-ebooks.htm

    How many books does your local library have on Nigerian politics and how up to date are they? Because if they are typical library books, they are checked out so infrequently that they haven't been updated in years. And I find it hard to believe that they would have a better selection of Nigerian books than the Nigerian e-book store.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post


    Why on earth would e-books be available only in Nigeria? They're e-books. Click and download. Here are some places to start:


    How many books does your local library have on Nigerian politics and how up to date are they? Because if they are typical library books, they are checked out so infrequently that they haven't been updated in years.
    I said it was just an example.

    But it's true about the Cdn lit, and I also said that will probably change.

    Ebooks are wonderful for some things. My niece works for the govt, she travels a lot, and for her to have access to acts etc on a device like the ipad (the e-reader) is awesome.

    But not every book in the world will be available to read on an e-reader.
    I'm not saying that we as individuals can access every book either, but I wonder how publishing companies will deal with niche subjects.
    Gone crazy. Be back soon.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    I have an e-reader and photos look just fine on it . Give it a few years and photos will look even better.

    What are the other kinds of books you think would be inappropriate for an e-reader?
    Some of my larger than folio-sized art, photography, and architecture books which literally are the size of a small coffee table. Also, I sometimes like to make comments in the margins of my books. Sort of related, but I also still prefer to write first drafts, rather than type them, and I find it nearly impossible to revise on the computer and have to work from a printed text. Finally, I just really like the feel of paper and much prefer it to plastic.
    I do think books will die, although perhaps not as quickly as some are predicting. After all, newspapers are still (barely) hanging on, and I thought most of them would be gone by now.
    I'm pretty sure that I will be dead long before books die out, which I suppose is a good thing for the likes of me.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pat c View Post
    I said it was just an example.
    Yes, I know that. But your assumption was based on thinking in terms of books, not digital media.

    Quote Originally Posted by pat c View Post
    But it's true about the Cdn lit, and I also said that will probably change.
    Absolutely.

    Quote Originally Posted by pat c View Post
    But not every book in the world will be available to read on an e-reader.
    Because....?

    Quote Originally Posted by pat c View Post
    I'm not saying that we as individuals can access every book either, but I wonder how publishing companies will deal with niche subjects.
    Niche markets are booming on e-readers and are expected to continue to do so because it's so difficult to get hard-copy niche books. Remember when there was no internet and you wondered if there were other figure skating fans out there? Well, here we are. The same thing will happen with books; you want books on Russian cooking written in Croatian? There will be a website just for you. Publishers as we know them now will not exist in another decade or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by skatingfan5 View Post
    Some of my larger than folio-sized art, photography, and architecture books which literally are the size of a small coffee table.
    Well, yeah, art books may be a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by skatingfan5 View Post
    Also, I sometimes like to make comments in the margins of my books.
    You can make comments in e-books. You just won't be able to handwrite them . Yet. That's supposedly in the works.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Well, yeah, art books may be a problem.
    And those large-format art books comprise at least half my collection.
    You can do make comments in e-books. You just won't be able to handwrite them . Yet.
    Although I know that there has been a "comments" function for all sorts of electronic documents for a long time now, I have never been motivated to use them yet. Not sure that handwriting on a ipad or some such similar device would be much better for me.

    I didn't have a computer of my own until about 3 Christmases ago -- and it's been out of commission since June 2009. Whereas my pens still have ink flowing and if I can find my stationery amidst all the books, I can write my weekly letter to my mother (who will NOT under any circumstances go near a computer). In some ways I suppose I really am a bit of a Luddite (although I do have a cell phone).

  20. #20

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    Cost- interesting to think about. In the early 90s I worked for a small educational publisher. Cost of printing books was about 20 percent of what we sold book. Author royalties were 10 - 18 percent. Authors still want their royalties and I would think they want the same dollar mat whether it is paper or e. Develpment in addition to royalties could be expensive, depending on the book. Publisher still has to cover costs and make a profit. The company I worked for made some money, but not a lot, and the owner was cheap.

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