A new world of books is upon us

GAME-CHANGING technologies are upon us before we can adjust to their presence. We dread them and often we pretend that the game would not change. Closing our eyes to change is an old human habit. We have no answers so we remain smug. This is happening to the publishing industry worldwide. Technology has changed, the devices have changed, the economics has changed, the rules have changed and so has the scale.

So will the book, the printed and bound book, be a thing of the past?

Can the digital library, the Kindle store, the Apple Store, the many e-readers and tablets finish the book and the wooden bookshelf that decorated our studies and occupied our minds?

It’s possible. The only reason why the printed book might survive for a while is that publishers do not want the traditional model to vanish so fast. The brick and mortar world of publishing is too quaint and too good to be closed so fast and forever. Also, reader habits do not change that quickly. But the change is upon us. How do we cope? When Julian Barnes, while accepting the Booker Prize, sounded a clarion call to keep the bound book alive, he was pointing once again to the imminent danger: the printed book is no longer viable. That is why he wrote a short novel and was duly awarded. This year’s Booker Prize was a business award as well for it wanted to tell publishers the 1,000-page novel is over in printed form………

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