John Biggs yanks the chains of all devoted book lovers in “The Future of Books: A Dystopian Timeline”.
With the launch of the Kindle Fire… tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to write a little bit sci-fi and imagine what the publishing market will look like in the next ten or so years.
The music goes round-and-round and it comes out here:
2025 – The transition is complete even in most of the developing world. The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance.
This makes me wonder how much book marketing will change. Especially the ways that will affect fans. When books go away, will authors still do signings? There won’t be anything to autograph, unless it’s the ebook reader itself. Will authors carve their initials with a pocket knife? Or use a hot brand to press them into the plastic?
Or another possibility – what about programming ebooks with some kind of graphical signature that can be unlocked using a code known only to the author?
Of course with tattoos being in fashion, maybe it’s the human reader the author will ink with his signature?
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]
There are probably still femmefen who would want their breasts signed.
There will still be people who want paper books, for whatever reasons. I think STAR TREK and it’s sequels was right in that respect: James Kirk, Samuel T. Cogley, and Jean-Luc Picard liked real books even as Kirk and Picard used electronic readers for their day to day briefings and research.
I tend to be optimistic about book lovers surviving well into the next century. What I’m not optimistic about is their influence on the market. They may be marginalized by publishers only concerned with the bottom line, and the bibliophile’s 5% market share may not sway publishers from abolishing paper. Another possibility is that the printed book may survive as a niche market, but if you think books are expensive *now*… wait until they’re printed only for a handful of collectors. $35 books could become $75 books.
Then again, maybe the next generation will grow up thinking digital substitutes for the real thing are tacky — the sort of cheap, shallow gimcrackery that their parents were crazy about for some reason.