Saturday 10 January 2009
The FUTURE OF READING
I've been reading a lot of blogs on the future of reading recently. Will the printed book be here in twenty years time? Will E-Books dominate? Will we all read our books on small electronic gadgets?
The industry experts seem to think that POD or PRINT ON DEMAND is the future. A machine in bookshops would be linked to a massive database and within minutes be able to print out any book available anywhere in the world.
The humble book has pretty much stayed the same since its invention way back when the world was black and white. But all other form of media - films, music - have been altered beyond belief by the digital revolution.
The thought of all books only being available as E-Books terrifies me. Reading novels on a screen in not perfect - mind you a few years back I wouldn't read prose on a screen at all and take it in and yet these days I'm reading a lot of Webzines and enjoying them greatly. The other advantage is I can save any interesting bits I might want to archive - this is certainly better than an old box stuffed full of mags beneath the bed.
With the launch of gadgets like The Kindle E-Books are bound to become more and more popular but as for replacing the printed alternative....I don't think so.
These print of demand machines seem interesting - If this machine produces a book of comparable quality to a current published book, then that could be a true advancement.
With digital databases being able to store so much in such a small space there would be no need for any book to be out of print ever....mind you this technology has stirred up some arguments between publishers and authors because if a book is on the database, even if no one has bought a copy for years, then technically it's still in print. But the author doesn't benefit financially until someone buys the book and the all valuable copyright remains with the publisher.
In the current system if a book is out of print for a certain period the rights revert to the author.
I don't know what will happen but it's interesting to ponder of the future of the book - already it's portable, doesn't need any power source (other than a reading lamp after dark) and there's something comforting in flicking those paper pages. In short the book is perfect as it is.
It's not in a business sense though.
Books can be expensive to produce and store, heavy discounting by the big supermarkets often mean that publishers are barely breaking even or incredibly operating at a loss.
What do others think is the future of the book as a printed medium? Is it the E-Book, POD, or will we simply all give up reading and plug ourselves via a brain probe into a TotalImmersion Bubble?
(Note TotalImmersion Bubble's do not exist..I just made that bit up because I thought it sounded cool.)
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