I don't usually post twice in a day, especially on a Friday, but JA Konrath wrote a cute little "play" about the death of print. You can read it at the Huffington Post.
Remember folks, Konrath is here to sell books. He makes money selling books. He makes his living writing and selling books. And yes, he's doing well.
But he's still here to sell you books, and he doesn't give a shit if you buy a paperback or an e-version of his latest. Wait...maybe he does. I think the profit margin on e-books is better. But I digress...
Print is obsolete?
The aforementioned "play" is full of implied comparisons which fall apart under any real scrutiny. Just look at the other members of "Obsolete Anonymous": VHS tapes, LPs (which are actually making a bit of a comeback), cassettes, the Phone Company, CDs...
All of which require a piece of technology to decode content. Print isn't the same (except for e-books...but I'll get to that momentarily). What is the technology that decodes text content? Don't say the printing press, 'cause that's not quite it. Go on. Think about it.
It's your brain. That ugly lump of grey matter in your skull. It decodes the marks on paper (or a screen) and makes sense of them, not some kind of device, player, or receiver. Print books aren't the same as the other "obsolete" technologies because our brains are always going to be there. People will still read print. Two hundred years from now, a person can find a book in a hermetically sealed plastic bag, and the book will still be readable. Sure, said person may struggle with a few changes in syntax and spelling, but he/she can decode it without a special device. A CD in two hundred years will be a worthless lump of plastic because the technology needed to decode it is gone. And a Kindle file won't even exist (digital dark age, baby).
Print books are not the same as CDs, LPs, VHS, etc. because they don't require special, dated technology to decode and enjoy.
Yes, more people will have e-readers in the future.* Yes, there may be a shift in publishing and the print book industry. Yes, more books will go to print on demand. These things happen. Um, don't you think the shift to readily available and cheaper pulp paper made a difference to the print publishing industry in the last century? These things happen and the world has a way of changing rather quickly.
Our brains, unfortunately do not. Go on predicting the "death of print". I'll still be reading ink on paper when I'm eighty.
*anybody care to talk about how the consumer is being fleeced on this one? Instead of the old model (buy content and decode myself), we are rushing headlong into a model like the music industry or movies (buy content and buy a device--which will one day become obsolete--to decode content for me). Hey, but somebody's getting rich, right?
It's just not me.