7 thoughts on “Daily question: Is this the future of the Printed Book?

  1. Brad I: “Until electronic media is as easy to read as well printed content…”

    One of the main reasons why my reading shifted dramatically towards digital media is the fact that I use a very large monitor and I can arbitrarily enlarge text to a point where I can read it even across the room. Additionally, with digital, I can search text, highlight, take notes, compare and so on. Other than portability, printed text is pretty much ornamental. Siracusa’s eBook argument is worth reading:

    http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2009/02/the-once-and-future-e-book.ars

  2. As someone who works in the (mostly) ad supported daily print world, this question is very important to my industry & me. I think print will continue to lose market, but will still be around for some time. Until electronic media is as easy to read as well printed content (especially for those of us getting needing reading glasses) I don’t think print will go away.

    Books, in particular, often have sentimental value a Contra points out. In addition, as an avid reader, I enjoy the physical medium; pointing out that I haven’t tried the Kindle.

  3. No denying the decline but books in print just so inspiring. Perhaps there will be less pulp fiction (maybe that can go digital and save some trees) and higher quality books will abound (maybe!) but I can’t imagine a future with no books. Less books, maybe, but no books… They will definitely survive ornamentally as you point out. We’re beginning to live in the future of the book. I wonder what the stable state will be?

    I just got back from the bookstore looking for a specific O’Reilly book (in print) whose text is completely available online for free (realworldhaskell.org). There is just something so beautiful about having a book in hand and on the shelf. Perhaps part of this is that I relish beautiful books. I like the smell and the texture. Maybe you are right about books being ornamental, but I plan to throw this one in my bag and read it on the train.

    On the other hand… perhaps I would read it stored on an iPhone or iPod touch if I had one… but I do find in-print books to be faster to spin through and more pleasure to read than staring at a screen all day. And I like that I can sell it or give it away. A seven hundred page book is rather heavy compared to an iPhone and it does get tattered.

  4. What a beautiful art on the photos!

    I can agree print is loosing ground to digital devices but only slowly. So maybe the pace of change is a more relevant item to discuss than the final destination.

    I’m still reading books. My last one was “Dreams from my father” from Barack Obama. I bought it at the airport and read it on the swimming pool side on my vacation. I had my iPhone with me which stayed in my hotel room locker where it couldn’t be stolen. I could leave my book without worry at my swimming pool seat while taking a swim and it gave me some nice and unexpected conversation because people notices the cover of my book.
    But the main reason I didn’t use my iPhone so much for reading was the slow speed of the hotel wifi connection.

    Meanwhile the printed newspaper I take on my daily commute trip gets more and more competition from my iPhone. The same information found in my newspaper is available on my iPhone as well but the iPhone offers so much more and on top of that it is more practical and compact. But most of all: it is absolutely amazing how usable the small device is for just reading!

  5. Deanston: “only the ad-supported printed dailies or weeklies that are rapidly losing readership”

    I think book and magazine publishing are in trouble in too.

    “people ‘print’ stuff out to read more than ever”

    But what about the rate of growth? Just imagine for a second the enormous volume of stuff that gets read over the internets that is never printed. And that volume is almost on a compounding curve.

    I donated about 2,000 books from my library ten years ago. Since then my rate of book acquisition has been about 10% of that, whereas my online consumption has just skyrocketed.

    Indeed, as I look at what’s left of my personal library now, it’s mostly composed of books of some sentimental value and books that provide a superior reading experience in printed form…essentially ornamental. Virtually all reference oriented books have been replaced by their online counterparts.

    It would be far easier for those in power to ‘erase’ the information stored on a disk centrally

    I think P2P should take care of that. :-)

  6. Interestingly it is only the ad-supported printed dailies or weeklies that are rapidly losing readership. My non-scientific impression is that people “print” stuff out to read more than ever through printers in the home and office.

    The most dangerous thing in the world is an idea. Beyond oral tradition, ideas are passed on through books and other solid static textural media. It would be far easier for those in power to “erase” the information stored on a disk centrally than banning and burning books that threaten their position.

    So I hope for the sake of humanity, printed/written/carved representation of knowledge should never be displaced. I would entrust human records to paper and stone that have proven to weather through history, than current electronic medium that can easily rust or magnetize away.

    Besides, you can always use trashy political books for fuel or TP. If you’re trapped like in The Day After Tomorrow, what are you gonna do? Light up the PC hard drive to keep warm or cook, or wipe your butt with the Kindle?

  7. I think books are here to stay. Death of print was speculated even when the, with internet but books may no not be replaced.

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