Monday, December 12, 2005

The Death of Traditional Book Publishing

Working Smart: The Death of Traditional Book Publishing: "While most publishers will admit that reference content is better accessed on the computer, almost all believe that the traditional non-fiction book or novel will never be replaced with a digital equivalent. I say, “baloney.” It's coming. The sooner publishing executives get their collective heads out of the sand and face the future, the better prepared they will be to meet it."

I love books. I love their smell, the feel of the pages, and the way they look on the shelf. And I have a hard time believing that this will disappear anytime soon. I do see that some attempt at change is likely, but I see large differences between what has happened in the music industry and what is likely for the future of book publishing.

First, music is more conducive to digital medium. It has been abstract from the start, and through CD's we've been dealing in digital for twenty-plus years. The product is aural, not visual, and that makes a world of difference. Since we moved from storytelling to print, we haven't seen much overall change in the print medium. I have no doubt that something is coming, that someone will try and change the way we read books. But it will be much longer before someone gets it right, before someone puts together a device that feels right in the readers hands, that has a display that is as easy on the eyes as traditional print, that wins over new generations of readers. And, of course, they need to put it in a digital format that can't be easily traded over peer-to-peer networks. I think it's going to be a while.

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