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Re: Books of the Future



> The one thing that has helped me deal with new technology is to remember
that
> we don't have to make choices.  It's not an either/or situation.  We are
not
> being asked to throw out our leather-bound codices and to replace them
with
> electronic texts.  All we are being asked--if we are so inclined--is to
create
> new space in our libraries for new types of books.  Hey, I'm game.

I agree completely here.  Nobody, but nobody is going to persuade me to
throw out my library - or stop me buying more paper books.  And if everybody
else stops reading paper books - which isn't likely to happen in my
lifetime - then, well, as long as current supplies hold out secondhand book
prices are going to plummet.  Great.

I've taken a fixedly one-sided look at this problem in most of my postings
to this group - mostly because before I posted everybody was saying "The
Book will last forever and Computer Books won't work" - which I think is
rather too relaxed an attitude to take.  The wireless men said the same
about television.  They thought it was a flash in the pan novelty.  Instead,
it took their audiences and blew them away .

However - and back to the pessimistic angle - you have to remember that if
Publishers find it cheaper and easier to "print" and publish their books in
electronic formats, then they may stop mass-producing paper books.  This is
a long way away, if it ever happens, but it could come.

For those on this List who make beautiful (and possibly expensive) hand-made
books this may even be a boon.  Because, as Ed suggests, their prices will
probably rocket as fewer and fewer people make them (and competition from
cheaper paper texts would disappear), and the big Publishers drop out of the
market into a new one.  But for those of us who are basing our work on text
and not wonderful bindings a system which allowed easy access to huge
amounts of texts which can be "downloaded" at the touch of a button is
likely - once it gets into the swing of things - to reduce demand for
traditional books which you can only buy if they happen to be available, and
which can then take days or weeks to arrive.

If the flood waters do start to rise, and everybody does get a "Library of
Congress" in their lap (and how are they going to fit Shakespeare's First
Folio onto this thing, the pages would have to be enormous?), then my advice
would be to find a nice dry niche and climb into it very quickly.  If your
product is unusual and desirable enough it might survive even if the very
worst predictions come true.  If not, we do risk becoming dinosaurs ...

Let's hope it takes another generation or so before that happens - if it
ever does.  Then we can let somebody else worry about it.  And they might
have time to adapt.

And in the meantime, I'm going to be playing with as many electronic book
formats as I can.  Fiddling while Rome burns?  Perhaps.  But even with the
electronic book in the state that it is in at the moment, it can be very
convenient - and why should I pass over these benefits out of
sentimentality?

Thomas Larque.


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