What is the future of books?

The future of books lies in eBooks, which will empower authors to communicate great ideas without the encumbrances of paper and ink. Furthermore, eBooks will be ubiquitous, available from many manufacturers with a wide range of features in a variety of shapes and sizes, including waterproof versions for the beach. These devices may not completely replace traditional books (some people will still want the hardcover for their libraries), but they will become the most practical, immediate and common way to purchase and enjoy reading material.


The future of books lies in eBooks, which will empower authors to communicate great ideas without the encumbrances of paper and ink. Furthermore, eBooks will be ubiquitous, available from many manufacturers with a wide range of features in a variety of shapes and sizes, including waterproof versions for the beach. These devices may not completely replace traditional books (some people will still want the hardcover for their libraries), but they will become the most practical, immediate and common way to purchase and enjoy reading material.

William Caxton printed the first book in the English language in 1475. Since then English has spread around the world to become an almost universal tongue – and the printing press has became the tool for spreading knowledge and ideas in an easily accessible form into every house and education center.

Books have been produced in the millions as they captured the thoughts and ideals of humanity and encapsulated it into pages crammed with words that could be accessed by future generations. We have grown up to accept books as a way of life, enshrined into our civilization as one of the freedoms we fight to defend. Authors have been imprisoned, tortured and killed in an effort to stifle their ideas when these have conflicted with the ruling establishment. Their destiny was to be ‘different’ and therefore a threat, their execution stilled their hearts but their ideals lived on in the printed word. Vast libraries exist to store the cumulated wisdom of the ages, monuments of brick and mortar to the thousands of writers who have poured out their souls for the enlightenment of the future.

There were books before the printing press, but these were laboriously copied by hand in pen and ink, lavishly illustrated and restricted in distribution because they were so labour intensive. The printing press opened the way to the mass market, and to writers who could never have been able to exist if they had been forced to produce their masterpieces under the old systems.

In his lifetime Caxton printed about 100 books, mainly in short runs – today publishing houses produce thousands of books each year, and these are available to the world!

Just as an example, Internet book retailer Amazon.com has over 2,500,000 books available through its warehouses – and even this list does not include every book printed in the English language. Multiply this by the number of languages written around the world and you will get some idea of the vast array of books weighing down our planet.

Books require plantations of trees to produce the paper they are printed on, and houses and libraries require vast storage space to keep these books for their owner’s use.

Will this continue to be the way into the new millennium?

I don’t think so. The computer has spawned a new generation that is prepared to look at other ways to solve their problems – and the Internet has cleared the way to a global storehouse of knowledge. The tide is turning as traditional books are being replaced by electronic books. These are no different in content to the old-style book, but they have the benefit of being compact, easy to store and easy to read with the new technology involved.

Electronic book readers are not much bigger than a hardcover novel, weigh about the same but can store up to 5 or 6 novels at the same time. Nice to be able to take your weekend reading with you in a single compact unit instead of a pile of loose books that you can misplace or damage.

Are the Big Guns getting involved with eBooks?

How big do you want these big guns to be? Will you settle for Microsoft Corporation, Barnes & Noble, Adobe, Fatbrain, Simon & Schuster, Gemstar International and NuvoMedia, to name just a few.

When Microsoft Corporation, the largest corporation in the world with assets well in excess of $US 350 billion, combines with Barnes and Noble, one of the largest book chains in the USA and an online book giant, to reach agreement on supporting the future of eBooks, you have to stop and think. Microsoft doesn’t support losers and hates to invest money in areas where it won’t generate additional income.

“This collaboration is a concrete declaration of support by two industry leaders in the future of eBooks,” said Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble. “We envision a time in the not too distant future when there will be electronic versions of virtually every book in print. The technology of Microsoft Reader provides a superior reading experience for existing content and, as important, will generate an exciting wave of electronic publishing that will go beyond books. Barnesandnoble.com plans to be the center of what will surely be a huge market for digital content of all types.”

The merger between Gemstar International and NuvoMedia Inc will increase the profile and market for Rocket Book Readers, another major player in the eBook revolution.

So that’s America, there’s a whole lot of world outside the States?

That’s true, but the development is not restricted to USA only. The Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in October intends to push eBooks at the fair this year. It is one of the major book fairs in Europe, and this exposure is expected to push up the demand for eBooks in the European Economic Community – another huge untapped market.

How do you get eBooks?

EBooks come on 1.44 MB floppy discs, CD’s or can be downloaded directly from the Internet. In the USA many book retailers are building up EBook sections, and even libraries are embracing this new media. They are not only offering eBooks, but they are also looking at hiring eBook readers to their communities and uploading their selection of books into the reader for them to take away from the library.

Look at your book shelves, how much space in your lounge or office is taken up with books? Compare the space saving when you make the move to eBooks. As an example the whole of Encyclopaedia Britannica, all 30 volumes, fits on to a single CD. That changes your space requirements from 1.7 meters to 1 centimeter, quite a saving.

I have hundreds of books and many meters of shelves stacked with reference books, novels, paperbacks and magazines. I’m a hoarder, once in my hands a book hardly ever ends up back in circulation. If eBooks had been available in the past I would have room to move around my house, and I might even get to see what colour the old wallpaper was.

Author: Alan Brooker

News Service: Gateway to Unknown Reality

URL: http://www.igrin.co.nz/ambro/EBookPR.html