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Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Printed Books are here to Stay

The ebook will kill the printed book. Right? That's the way that this is all going to work. Video killed the radio star and the circle of life continues. Soon, libraries will be nothing more than electronic repositories of information and books will be antiques and decorative accents. Right?

The problem is that video didn't kill radio, email didn't kill paper and the internet didn't kill, well, anything that it was supposed to (I guess the internet is a big failure). Rather, the addition of electronic versions of the physical media transformed the system. Clive Thompson over at Wired says "In a precise parallel to the office-printing boom, print-on-demand is creating an odd new phenomenon . . . social publishing." So the electronic metamorphosis of books is making more books possible, not fewer. Books can be printed in tiny batches and tailored to small audiences. Special introductions or chapters can be custom written for each audience and unique titles can be printed that would never capture the interest of large publishers.

What do you think the future holds for books and ebooks?

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