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Mar 27, 2009

The Future of Books

Fiction Matters sums up my suspicions about the future of tree books after ebooks become the norm. Tree books will remain, but they will be expensive, high quality objects d'art, mainly for collectors and book lovers. The analogy is to records.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I don't see that happening. Books of paper, or at least nondigital, have been around much longer than records, cassettes, etc. I think paper books will remain longer than most people expect.

scott g.f.bailey said...

Well, yes. Trade paperbacks with heavier stock covers, French flaps and untrimmed signatures are becoming more common, and books are coming to market in that form, skipping the clothbound format entirely. Which is probably okay. I don't think ebooks has much to do with this shift; it's simply getting too expensive to produce fine hardbacks with dust covers, especially for fiction (and most especially for new authors).

Trees are also not the only source of paper. I think we'll start seeing hemp paper soon, which is a renewable resource.

If you look through the history of predictions about the future, you see that most predictions are wrong. I think, especially since ebooks only represent ~2% of actual book sales and publishers are not invested in raising that figure (mostly because Amazon is lowballing the retail price because their interest right now is in selling Kindles more than it is in selling books for Kindles), paper books will be around for some time.

Tara Maya said...

I'm not saying tree books will disappear, but just the opposite. Used books will become more valuable, and hardcovers and fine clothe covers will be of higher quality. Because consumers will still buy print books, but only for books they really treasure.

Or it could go in a completely different direction. (As Scott says, predictions are notorious). POD could become a home or coffeshop technology, and anyone who downloads a book could decide to make their own print copy.

If the dispute over Kindle speech reading is any indication, this will cause a lot of headaches in copyright matters.

Sara Raasch said...

I really really don't want to imagine the day when we no longer have paper books to browse through. A sad, sad day it will be.

Danyelle L. said...

Say it isn't so!
Ebooks are great for convenience, but they lack the soul of a traditional book. No feel of paper, no smell of paper, just an impersonal electronic dodad.

I don't see real books becoming more scarce, per se. Perhaps ebooks can be good for authors--especially if people buy the same book in two formats: regular book and ebook. :D

Tara Maya said...

Now you're talkin'! Maybe it will be like hardcover and paperback.