I’ve been on the road a fair bit over the last week or so. One the topics that we kept returning to was the future of the book. I find it hard to imagine that the book will completely go away. At least I don’t want to imagine that future but it’s increasingly likely that the majority of new books will be electronic.
It seems that there are amazing opportunities here – electronic books can be a much richer experience than a physical book, with the ability to link out to the web, to incorporate still images or video to illustrate a point the future looks very interesting. Bookstores are going to have to adapt to this new reality and are doing so by producing their own e-book readers. Of course not everyone gets this right.
I do wonder how small bookstores will adapt to the rise of e-books. Will they essentially become electronics retailers like their big box counter parts? Will most small bookstores be shuttered? Time will obviously tell, but I can certainly envision a place for the smaller specialty bookstore that meets the needs of a very specific group of customers in a way that can’t be met online.
For author it’s now quite cheap and relatively easy to skip the publisher and publish your own work. That has to be a good thing but it also shifts more of the burden of publishing the work onto the author. The author now becomes the content creator, editor, book designer and marketer. It would be rare to find someone who’s abilities cut across all of these areas. The sensible author would be one who looks to partner with editors, designers and marketers. Perhaps this is how the specialty book store comes in – to help with marketing.