Thursday, 7 October 2010
e-books or real books? Consult a crystal ball.
We are in a wonderful change environment, all sorts of gods and philosophers are telling us about the future of books and publishing, they are consulting their crystal balls and getting the sort of reality you expect from this source.To me it's the same shift from painting to photography and from silent movies to talkies. Or even to take it back to another example Leonardo Da Vinci knew humans would one day fly. I hope he is enjoying himself looking down from heaven and seeing the reality of his vision.So the book as we know it is changing, but I don't think we will be going to museums in ten years time to look at books, my view is that the reasons for the decline in book sales are many and complex. One of the reasons might be that our values have changed, we value what we can consume, and what costs as little as possible.It seems odd to me that a glossy magazine, full of expensive advertising can cost nearly as much as a paperback. I wonder if we did the sums and scaled up what books cost thirty years ago and what they cost now, we would find books have lost monetary value. What is the answer to this? Possibly ebooks, but I don't think ebook sales are equal to sales in print.( someone can correct me on this if they want) and this to me is minimalist consumerism, stream the words as directly as possible into the brain and collect the mirco payment. So where is the pleasure in finding a title? The lead from a friend, a review in the Guardian, an accidental conversation in the library, the quality of the art work on the cover, the construction design, and as I said before the feel of the book. So maybe its about splitting the world into consumers and connoisseurs? I don't know. What I do know is no matter how magic your crystal ball is, you will only know the direction of the future of books after it has happened.