THE FUTURE OF THE BOOK
– the digital transformations of the way books are written, published and sold has only just begun -
“The digital transition may well change the way books are written, sold and read more than any development in their history.
But to see technology purely as a threat to books risks missing a key point. Books are not just “tree flakes encased in dead cow”, as a scholar once wryly put it. They are a technology in their own right, one developed and used for the refinement and advancement of thought. And this technology is a powerful, long-lived and adaptable one.
Being able to study printed material at the same time as others studied it and to exchange ideas about it sparked the Reformation; it was central to the Enlightenment and the rise of science.
Books read in electronic form will boast the same power and some new ones to boot. The printed book is an excellent means of channelling information from writer to reader; the e-book can send information back as well. Teachers will be able to learn of a pupil’s progress and questions; publishers will be able to see which books are gulped down, which sipped slowly. Already readers can see what other readers have thought worthy of note, and seek out like-minded people for further discussion of what they have read. The private joys of the book will remain; new public pleasures are there to be added.
The print book is “a really competitive technology”: it is portable, hard to break, has high-resolution pages and a “long battery life”.
What is the future of the book? It is much brighter than people think.”
#theeconomist #books #literature #digital