The Future of Books, Not Bound by Anything

The Economist published an article of the same title towards the end of March. I’ve been waiting for free time as scarce as the rainfall in this country these days so the read has been pretty much mentioned in several threads by now already.

Anyway the article talks about the phenomenon of digitizing books. It was apt to start off by mentioning Google‘s mention of its endeavors towards that direction through books.google.com among the many efforts towards realizing an unbounded environment for information.

With the many issues arising from digitizing books raised, even the basic definition of a book has been obscured. The seemingly relevant analogy of e-books to other digital formats such as digitized music even adds to the uncertainty on the future of the traditional publication form, not to mention possible legal issues that will likely arise just as when music albums have been unbundled as well. Throw in its effect on the reading individual and I’m definitely looking at this more closely.

Among the early casualties of the movement were published encyclopedias as their online counterparts have rendered them practically obsolete. For someone who grew up relying on the former as primary reference or starting point for research, the change sure didn’t go unnoticed. On a more massive scale of obsolescence into the future, it does seem to point to having bookstores and libraries lined up in the domino queue.

I am inclined to believe however that published books won’t still go away. Apart from behavioral considerations on reading cultivated by human society over several centuries, I’ve heard the same concerns somewhat raised more than a decade ago yet I have yet to see a hard hitting effect of the movement comparable to that which hit the recording industry though.