In this digital world, many readers are wondering whether books will ever become obsolete. This trend has been portrayed in science fiction for decades. Movies such as Star Trek celebrate printed books as archaic collectors items. These films have shaped the public’s thinking about the future of books. Here, we explore how printed books might become obsolete in the digital age. We also discuss the Future of bookstores and e-book readers.
Future of print-on-paper books
In a recent report, Stora Enso, a leading provider of book paper and covers, explored the future of print-on-paper books. The study included 80 in-depth interviews in thirteen countries, involving retailers, publishers, printers, audiobook producers, and companies that convert physical books into digital formats. The findings indicate that print-on-paper books have a very strong future. However, this future is uncertain for the medium, and readers are left wondering what the future holds for them.
The industry has long struggled with producing differentiated digital and print versions, but the transition of scholarly journals is far easier to justify than that for books. As a result, book publishers will likely be content with digital byproducts and analogs of print works. But the question remains: is print-on-paper fading into oblivion? And what about the future of the book industry? The future of print-on-paper books is complex, and a few things must be considered before making the switch.
Future of e-books
The future of e-books is largely uncertain, as physical distribution is virtually locked up by the big players in the industry. Most print books are sold in big box retailers, and the Big Publishers pay billions to secure prime placement. This effectively shuts out the competition. E-books, however, are a more open environment. Amazon dominates the US and UK eBook market. Anyone can now publish a free eBook on Amazon. There are no gatekeepers and no big profits to be made.
E-books will require additional features, including full text search, multi-media information, mark-up, citation formatting, and reference linking. Moreover, the e-book experience will have to evolve to make it more user-friendly. Despite its many advantages, e-books are not without limitations. They are portable, affordable, and can be shared. Increasing the functionality of these devices will also increase their utility as textbooks.
Future of book stores
One of the most compelling reasons to save bookstores is the potential to reinvent them as social hubs. While airports are now paragons of neoliberalism, bookstores can still be community centers. In the aftermath of the Pandemic, many bookstores were able to survive lockdowns by serving the needs of the community. As a result, many of these places remain community-driven. Among the many ways to save bookstores is to reduce the number of outlets and focus on selling high-profit hardcover books, gifts, and food.
While e-books have made shopping at a traditional brick-and-mortar store less convenient, many readers will still continue to visit physical bookstores. Though eBooks are the most convenient form of reading, readers will continue to visit bookstores for the experience of the community and the sense of community that they provide. MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte believes that eBooks will eventually replace print books. In the same way, newspaper kiosks and record stores are becoming outdated.
Future of e-book readers
As the e-book reader market has become more competitive, e-readers that offer rich online reading resources have lost their “win” status. As of last year, Xiaomi and other Chinese manufacturers have entered the fray. Xiaomi watched the electronic paper books crowd funding campaign and relying on their low prices to benchmark the Kindle Youth Edition. Tencent Reader, Hisense A5 and IReader recently launched e-book readers with color screens.
As the popularity of e-reading reaches mainstream levels, manufacturers have begun to refine their products. For instance, Amazon has updated its Third-generation Kindle with a Wi-Fi capability and offers a Kindle with a larger screen. The company has also refreshed its Kindle 2 and Kindle Wi-Fi. As technology improves, e-readers will have even more capabilities. While many are predicting that e-readers will eventually replace paper books, there is still a need for empirical research to see if these products will be useful.
Future of libraries
Historically, libraries have been a place for studying and learning. Studying is the process of gaining knowledge and understanding about a subject. Learning can be done through reading, writing, practising, or even being taught. These days, however, there are more options for physical spaces to do these activities. Makerspaces are excellent examples. In addition, self service has become a common trend in government, with many traditional library activities being automated.
Depending on the model chosen, the future of libraries is largely uncertain. It will depend on many factors, including the characteristics of a community, local government vision, and space. It is likely that libraries will mix education and leisure, creating more opportunities for interaction and maximizing disposable time. Successful libraries will continue to think about the future and continue to provide excellent customer service. For now, however, there are few surefire ways to ensure the future of libraries.