Paper Books Will Vanish,
But Not Publishers?

Publishing industry professionals gave extremely polarized answers about the future of books in paper when surveyed for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Earth Times reports: “The poll asked which book industry players would still exist half a century from now, and 25 per cent forecast that bookstores would largely disappear, with online distribution of paper books by firms such as Amazon taking over … Of those polled, 21 per cent predicted literary agents would disappear as publishers learn to find authors online.” Interestingly, though, “only 14 per cent thought publishers themselves would vanish.”

The survey was notable for a wide disparity in views, with 12 per cent of publishers convinced the new e-readers will prove a short-lived flash in the pan, just like earlier e-readers that never caught on because their batteries ran flat so quickly.

In fact, 30 per cent of those surveyed were convinced that sales of digital content would never exceed those of paper books, whereas 40 per cent predicted this would happen within the next 10 years.

The survey was not a scientific one, since it was mailed to 35,000 people and only 1,000 replied. The Frankfurt Book Fair’s press release adds:

When asked who was driving the move towards digitisation in the book industry, only seven per cent felt that publishers were leading the way:
• 22 per cent said that consumers were pushing the move towards digitisation
• online retailers like Amazon (21 per cent), Google (20 per cent), and the telecommunications sector (13 per cent) were not far behind
• only two per cent felt that authors were driving this aspect of the industry – and governments lagged even further behind with only one per cent

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the links.]

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