Skip to content

Dystopian Timeline for Print Books

TechCrunch has published this potential scenario:

The Future Of Books: A Dystopian Timeline

“2013 – EBook sales surpass all other book sales, even used books. EMagazines begin cutting into paper magazine sales.
2014 – Publishers begin “subsidized” e-reader trials. Newspapers, magazines, and book publishers will attempt to create hardware lockins for their wares. They will fail.
2015 – The death of the Mom and Pops. Smaller book stores will use the real estate to sell coffee and Wi-Fi. Collectable bookstores will still exist in the margins.
2016 – Lifestyle magazines as well as most popular Conde Nast titles will go tablet-only.
2018 – The last Barnes & Noble store converts to a cafe and digital access point.
2019 – B&N and Amazon’s publishing arms – including self-pub – will dwarf all other publishing.
2019 – The great culling of the publishers. Smaller houses may survive but not many of them. The giants like Random House and Penguin will calve their smaller houses into e-only ventures. The last of the “publisher subsidized” tablet devices will falter.
2020 – Nearly every middle school to college student will have an e-reader. Textbooks will slowly disappear.
2023 – Epaper will make ereaders as thin as a few sheets of paper.
2025 – The transition is complete even in most of the developing world. The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance. Book collections won’t disappear – hold-outs will exist and a subset of readers will still print books – but generally all publishing will exist digitally.”

As with all scenario planning exercises, this one is interesting. It will engage some people emotionally and others on the statistical data side and others still on the technology underpinnings.  As with all scenarios, they’re not meant to be absolute predictions but a straw man to model potential futures and our reactions or involvement in them.

So this one is an excellent place to start a discussion amongst library staff and associations.  What can libraries do to encourage or discourage this scenario?  What is good and bad about it?  Are libraries not about reading and don’t really care about format, but if format disintermediates libraries . . .?  Anyway, I find this scenario a great exercise.

Is this really dytopian from the reading perspective (or the tree’s)?


Posted on: September 28, 2011, 12:01 pm Category: Uncategorized