More Printed Books Instead of Fewer Ones?

Will the e-book kill off the print book? Every time I hear that question, I think about the ‘paperless office.’ Back in the ’80s, the rise of word processors and e-mail convinced a lot of people that paper would vanish. Why print anything when you could simply squirt documents around electronically? We all know how that turned out.”

So writes Clive Thompson at the beginning of a Wired essay explaining why he believes that there are more – not fewer – books in our collective future.

Sure, the e-book has been invented and reading on screens has become popular. Although purchasing an e-book is hardly as inexpensive as readers had hoped, more and more people are buying devices to read those not-always-inexpensive e-books on various types of screens – including, most incredibly, the tiny screens on their mobile telephones.

However, another – and far less publicized – invention that’s revolutionizing the publishing industry is the still-reasonably-priced “book-on-demand.”  True, the equipment used to instantly publish a printed book as it is ordered isn’t cheap, but Thompson predicts it will eventually become so, to the extent that individual consumers may end up owning them.

Read Thompson’s entire essay.

Found via Shelf Awareness



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