Friday, August 06, 2010

The End of the Print World as We Know It

Ah, Negroponte is at it again! Stirring up the masses with a prediction. This time, the doomed in focus is our old friend, the printed paper book. Negroponte points to the fact that ebook sales have overtaken hardcovers, and are expected to outpace paperbacks within the year. Of course, this statistic is solely for Amazon. When Barnes and Noble makes such a prediction, this might be more valid…at least from a larger, macro-social perspective. I expect there will long be a market for paper based books. I expect a good many things need to happen before e- truly replaces print as the way books are consumed.

Before print ‘dies’, first more and more materials will be printed solely electronically (I expect many top tier/NYTimes bestsellers, for instance). Also, the cost of readers will need to come DOWN. Until there are <$50 versions available, i.e.: until the e-reader has become commoditized, will this distribution method truly become mainstream. With that, I expect that the cost of e-publications will need to come down further in price before attaining true mass-market appeal.

Anyway, I see many challenges before Negroponte’s prognostication about print books being dead in 5 years (with whatever qualifiers you mix in there). Really, this is very aggressive and likely vapor. I do expect e- to replace paper, but slowly and iteratively. Printed, paper-based materials will be with us for quite some time.


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Edit: I felt the need to adjust this sentence: "Anyway, I see many challenges before Negroponte’s prognostication about print books being dead in 5 years (with whatever qualifiers you mix in there) is very aggressive and likely vapor." Mid-sentence as I type, yet my mind is well on to the next topic. When I lose focus, sentences merge.

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