Can the book – as we know it – survive the next 30 years?
It’s probably to early to sound the death knell for the resilient physical book, which will survive the next thirty years in a guise very close to what we currently know.
Although self-publishing in the digital realm is a more financially viable route for authors, leading to a cheaper, and sometimes free, product for the consumer, the move towards digital printing means the printed physical book remains a possibility for many authors.
A development from this large amount of free content devalues the digital information/product. Drawing on our previous sense experiences, we deem a physical item to be of a higher value. Not only is the end-user more engaged with a physical item, a book can provide a welcome respite from our screen-saturated world.
Places where people can congregate around books such as libraries, bookstores and community book clubs, foster connections and real life physical interaction. In a time of disenfranchisement with the ubiquitous social media via devices people constantly carry around in their pockets, books can become a totem. Word of mouth recommendations are more likely to occur standing around with books in hand.
While online technologies combine previously multiple type books into one accessible, easily updated device, it’s difficult to get an author to sign your e-reader with a sharpie when you rock up to the reader event at your local bookstore.
Survivors of the digital explosion are adapting as they use new media alongside the physical printed book. Niche markets will always exist and the printed book can address these with small digitally printed runs.
Whether the printed book looks the same in thirty depends on many factors, many unanticipated at this point in time. How technology sits alongside the printed book in a seamless user-friendly way is the challenge.