I had an interesting conversation yesterday. Seems some people believe that I believe that traditional books will be gone within 5 years and print will be gone; forget the paperless office, the paperless society will finally be here.
Talking about e-books requires a tough balance. On the one side, one needs to create a positive sense of urgency for stores. On the other, there is the reality that change sometimes takes a long time to happen quickly. Do I believe print books will eliminate paper books within five years? No. However, I do believe that e-books (or their successors) will leave a bigger imprint in the world of books in that timeframe. As one colleague put it, e-books now are getting the same reaction paperbacks received when they first arrived on the book seen. It is just another format that enables choice for readers, allowing them to get the content they want in the format they want it.
It is okay not to like e-books. The technology is overcoming new barriers every day, but is very admittedly "not quite there yet." I frankly am quite mixed on the topic. There are some conveniences to e-books that I really like. There are other aspects I would like to see changed. Truth is, we are still in the infancy of the technology. I read or heard once that the concept of page numbers did not emerge until 40 years after books were being printed. Sometimes we have to work with a format for a bit to figure out the elements or features that are most useful and enhance the value of the experience. E-books have only come close to commercial viability in the last couple years, so perhaps we should give the new format a break. But I digress...
As the title of this posting notes, I wanted to provide an alternative point of view today. So here is a piece against e-books that appeared in the Sunday Times last week. As is often the case, some of the responses to the article are as interesting as the article itself.