Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“A New Hope for Books”

I couldn’t find an online version of this article, but Clive Thompson begins with a question that many of us have been asking for a long time and that is “will the e-book kill off the print book?”  Well, the paperless office still doesn’t exist and it probably won’t; so, could this fact help answer the above question with a simple and emphatic NO!? Books will live on well into the future; however, they probably won’t flourish and we are already seeing a decline in print materials thanks to all this e-stuff floating around within the “clouds.” I shouldn’t be using that word because it makes me feel silly, but I digress.  So, do you think that the above question and the multitude of prophetic answers even matters anymore?  Does it create a moral panic?  Even Marshall McLuhan predicted the end of print in the 1960’s and we still have print.  We still have vinyl records!  Hmmm …

Thompson states that print-on-demand will do the same thing to books as the explosion of paper use did for the paperless office.  The print-on-demand trend is allowing people to self-publish and this is creating an “intergalactically long tail.” Thompson compares traditional publishing, where the number of new titles increased 5%, to print-on-demand and self-publishing, which is growing 169% -- albeit not all good content, but that is another post. So, imagine what the book market will be like when the average computer user can print out paperbacks at home using more affordable print-on-demand technologies.  I can’t wait to read “The Myth of the Paperless Book” someday. ;)

Check out “The Myth of the Paperless Office” by Abigail J. Sellen and Richard Harper. 

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