Friday, August 20, 2010

Books Have Many Futures

It's Kindle, and other e-readers, vs. The Book.
Published: August 20
, 2010
by Linton Weeks
The premise of Lane Smith's new work for children, It’s a Book, is simple: Books are under siege.

On the first page a donkey asks a monkey, "What do you have there?" The monkey replies: "It’s a book."
"How do you scroll down?" the donkey asks. "Do you blog with it?"
Then he asks: "Where’s your mouse? ... Can you make characters fight? ... Can it text? ... Tweet? ... Wi-Fi? ... Can it do this? TOOT!"
No, the monkey repeatedly replies. "It’s a book."
Smith's book, in stores this month, may be an example of a dying breed. A book, published -- and meant to be read -- on paper.
People have been talking about "the death of the book" for more than a decade. But recent events suggest the end may be imminent for bound-paper books as we have known them for more than 500 years. Hardbound and paperback books may never totally disappear, but they could become scary scarce -- like eight-track tapes, typewriters and wooden tennis rackets.

In July, CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his customers now buy more digital versions of stories -- designed for Amazon's proprietary reading tablet, the Kindle -- than they do hardcover books. That is an astonishing fact, Bezos said, "when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."

For the complete story.