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):
http://www.idealog.com/blog/the-prin...th-to-oblivion (The printed book’s path to oblivion):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.booktryst.com/2010/08/e-p...-shatzkin.html (E-Publishing Consultant Mike Shatzkin Doesn’t Understand Books-a response the blog post linked above):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.
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.