Sunday, 20 December 2009

The future of books

Your standard novel destined to die off for unnatural obsession we have with everything electronic?.

All the encyclopaedia ... 's ... ii ... whatever, are dead and buried. Would that make libraries even MORE valuable than they are already ... eventually?.

I just can't stare at a screen to read large volumes either. So what do you think. Books gonna give way to convenience and profit, or they here for ever?.


  1. Depends. Our civilisation's long-term information retention is probably going all electronic. Stuff printed on the paper made from the 1970s to now probably won't survive more than a hundred years or so. Maybe publishers will print on more robust stock in the future? Especially if print editions would already command a premium price, having their economies of scale removed.

    There was a move in the 60s through to the 80s to photograph everything in print and get it onto microfilm. Since the 90s the same thing has happened with digitsation. In theory, and it seems counterintuitive so bear me out, bits have better longecvity than paper, as they can be duplicated and moved around so much more easily. If a disk fails in a multi-petabyte array in a sekrit Google mega-datacentre somewhere, ther disk gets replaced. When the array reaches its end of life it gets replaced, the data already having moved.

  2. After the last time we relocaetd Chez Barnes and schleped boxes of books all over the place I swore off buying paper books. I have used public libraries and bough e-books (when available)of those friends I want to see the royalties paid.

    I have worked off screen for much of my working career in the science feilds it is essential. So I can't notice any difference in the text. Plus the additonal functionality the e-text's provide with links, highlighting, revising, animated charts or video etc...

    No doubt there will remain a market for specialty leather bound, beautiful books as things of beauty. Lawyers and English professors offices need wall coverings after all.

    So now I am waiting only for a decent (and by decent I mean not_a_kindle) e-reader and I am on board.

    Bring on the revolution say I.

  3. I think a solid bound book gives a story a real existence. Electronic media just becomes information and loses value to the person. I also reckon you'll find that a bound book would become 10 tens times as expensive.

    I wonder what the ramifications for the industry as a whole would be as well.

  4. Asimov, made a good point about books (obviously some time ago), that the perfect reading medium would be easily portable, consume no more energy once made and be made as much as possible from renewable resources. Guess what fits?

    I've read books on my iPaq but a book is better.

  5. I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my pleasure reading. I love the smell and feel of paper and the weight of a tome creates a physical connection to the story. Work shit, I'll take in e-format no worries.

  6. BTW as I rarely see you Oz crew over at The Quiet Life, I'll share my season's greetings here. Have fun and be be safe, try and stay ahead of the flies :-)

  7. I don’t know what things are going to be like in another century, but at the moment paper books – novels at least – are easier to read, and more convenient to carry, than any electronic reader, laptop or whatever. I wouldn’t dream of trying to read a novel on a computer screen if a paperback copy were available.

    But you want both to exist, especially in non-fiction, so you can easily search for items. I do the occasional bit of research into local folktales: I have a lot of books on the subject, and I can tell you that trying to remember where a particular piece of information lies can be a nightmare. But if it’s online, via Google Books or whatever, I can find it in a matter of minutes, seconds even.

    I don’t see paperbacks getting more expensive for a while yet. People have been predicting their disappearance for decades, just as people predicted an end to the cinema, due to the way people would be able to watch films at home. Neither has happened yet, and in the case of books sales have increased along with general affluence and literacy (don’t laugh).

  8. That's a good question. I still read but mostly with my ears via "electronic" audio books. I then buy the book so I have something to look at and say, "I read it or heard it."


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