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The Future of Books

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by modern_muslimah, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. modern_muslimah

    modern_muslimah Thinking of witty user title and coming up blank

    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-printed-books-path-to-oblivion (The printed book’s path to oblivion):

    http://www.booktryst.com/2010/08/e-publishing-consultant-mike-shatzkin.html (E-Publishing Consultant Mike Shatzkin Doesn’t Understand Books-a response the blog post linked above):

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  2. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    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.
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  4. 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.)
  5. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    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...
    Finnice, IceAlisa, rjblue and 3 others like this.
  6. hoptoad

    hoptoad Well-Known Member

    eusebius and (deleted member) like this.
  7. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    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?
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  8. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

    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! :D
  10. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

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

    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. rjblue

    rjblue Having a great day!

    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! :wuzrobbed
  12. lmarie086

    lmarie086 missing my cat :(

    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... :slinkaway )

    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. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

    I have an e-reader and photos look just fine on it :confused:. 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?

    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.

  14. pat c

    pat c Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member


    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:






    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.
  16. pat c

    pat c Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    Some of my larger than folio-sized art, photography, and architecture books which literally are the size of a small coffee table. :lol: 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'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. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

    Yes, I know that. But your assumption was based on thinking in terms of books, not digital media.



    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.

    Well, yeah, art books may be a problem. :lol:

    You can make comments in e-books. You just won't be able to handwrite them :). Yet. That's supposedly in the works.
  19. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    And those large-format art books comprise at least half my collection.
    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). :shuffle:
  20. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

    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.
  21. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

    I just bought an e reader.. not really using it yet as still figuring it out :p But one thing I still need my paperbacks for is my favourite relaxation - having a nice hot, deep bath and reading my book and I don't think I'll do that with the e reader :lol: But as I travel a lot an e reader seemed more practical than taking a bunch of books.. but there will always be a place for my paperbacks camping.. and taking a bath :D
  22. smileyskate

    smileyskate Active Member

    I don't have one as of yet, but are there any real studies out there which confirm that it is not harmful on the eyes, especially those of the children, to read into the light on the screen without a lamp on? It seems we hear of adults complaining of eyestrain from using a computer on and off throughout the day so to me this is another concern.
  23. immoimeme

    immoimeme my posts r modded

    The books I have now do not require electricity to use. That's big advantage to me.
  24. pat c

    pat c Well-Known Member

    Bandwidth. Big debate in Canada right now over internet bandwidth charges etc. And it is a valid concern.

    It's something to consider. :)
  25. Prancer

    Prancer Strong and stable Staff Member

    No studies, but here are what some doctors say on the issue: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/do-e-readers-cause-eye-strain/

    Do you often go for days without electricity?

    In terms of accessibility or expense? I can see added expense being an issue, but not availability of source material. And if the figures cited here are true, it shouldn't add a whole lot, unless you are being gouged. That does appear to be the plan, however.:rolleyes:
  26. pat c

    pat c Well-Known Member

    Expense. So, if you're being limited as to bandwidth, ebooks are not the way to go. We had a satellite dish that used Hughes Net. I have zero use for satellite internet companies. Zero. They cap bandwidth, except they call it fair access policy, and shorten it to fap. I think they have a couple of the letters all wrong. The f is right tho. ;)


    and the crtc:


  27. triple_toe

    triple_toe Well-Known Member

    God, I certainly hope books don't become obsolete, although I highly doubt that will happen.

    I may have, erm, gotten into several (very) heated arguments about my disdain for e-readers :shuffle:. I love the feel and smell of books, plus the physical sensation of turning pages. It's part of the whole experience. My perception of the story the book contains has to match its physical characteristics. For example, if I'm reading a work of classical literature, I feel like the physical book itself has to measure up to the great story within it. It *must* be hardcover, with good quality paper, beautiful print, and an elegant and fitting cover. If it's a piece of trashy chicklit, it has to be paperback with that thin grey-ish paper that makes a lot of noise when you turn the pages. Serious books, like textbooks or political memoirs, have to be heavy and a little intimidating to signify their importance. Something like a collection of O. Henry's short stories or Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat should be small and light, reflective of the fun, light humour they contain. Anything by Edgar Allan Poe should be dark and menacing.

    I also like to be able to tell the relationship I have with my books by how tattered they are. My Prisoner of Azkaban started to completely fall apart when 10-year old me decided to re-read it about 50 times before the fourth Harry Potter came out. :lol: I eventually had to buy a new copy a few years ago, but I refused to throw out the old one because I felt that how worn out it was a direct correlation of how much love I put into it. :eek: But that was a book I took everywhere, from the beach, to the rink, to under my covers at 3 am when I should have been asleep. There are certain books in my collection that I feel too much respect for to drag around with me, ones that I only use bookmarks for because dog ear-ing them seems inappropriate. Then, there are the books I never finished reading that still have that new book stiffness to them. Those are often the ones that were given to me as a present, or assigned as reading in middle/high school :slinkaway.

    I could never use an e-reader. It's so plastic and cold, it's like stripping the books of their soul. I've tried, and it just isn't the same. My family members who use them have learned not to bring it up :lol:. I freely admit that I am a fanatical book lover, and I hardly expect anyone to agree with or even read the crazy ramblings I've expressed above. :slinkaway
  28. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    Well... I agree with you. I love my books too. And your reference to digital media as being "cold" is not the first time I've heard that. One of my friends is a musician with 10 albums to his credit and a band in its 31 year of existance, and he said in a recent interview that digital music is cold and sterile, whereas analog (LPs and tapes) is a "warm" format. Which is true - digital doesn't reproduce the full spectrum of sound they way analog can, nor does digital vs. film.
  29. NinjaTurtles

    NinjaTurtles Teenage Mutant

    I imagine that the publishing industry will follow a trajectory similar to that of music industry. With books being available in a digital format piracy is inevitable; I could easily purchase an eReader and download all of its content, illegally, from a torrent website.

    Of course, bookstores may remain more common than your local record/CD shop. I think many utilize bookstores as a reference resource and apparently the internet hasn't shutdown the library system (yet).

    Plus, all of the latte sipping hipsters will need somewhere to congregate when they get the urge publicly freshen the ink on their blogs or monitor the status of their farms on Facebook.
  30. pat c

    pat c Well-Known Member

    You and my so. :) I think they'll charge what they can. Records for instance are on a bit of a comeback. I was in a bookstore a couple of days ago and they had vinyl for sale. :)

    I d/l music, not as much as I used to, but I do belong to a site that I can get the whole album for say $1.00. If I belong to itunes, which I do, I pay $1 a song.

    I think that might be what happens with digital books as well, NA will pay $10 for a new release, and somewhere else in the world will pay maybe $2.

    I'm not adverse to ebooks, I think they are a great thing in so many ways, but I haven't taken the time to find out the answers for some of the questions that I have and might not be an answer for.