I enjoyed a section The Wall Street Journal had included in a recent edition, where it celebrated its 125th birthday by exploring and contemplating what the future may bring us—in medicine, science, business, technology, and entertainment. But after reading about the possibilities I realized that there are so many unknown, even inconceivable factors that are or will be at play, that it’s very hard to in any way to predict, anticipate or even dream of the future.
When it comes to the book industry it’s hard to see far ahead. In looking back, we see books have been around for centuries, so it seems like something that is here to stay. On the other hand, we see grave challenges to books.
First, look at the financial model. As books become cheap or free, they will not be seen as valuable, thus fewer people will write them. If authors can’t make money, the task of writing will fall to robots!
Second, look at the time model. Too many things compete with books for time. Music, movies, email, websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines are some of the many, forms of entertainment and information that take time away from reading a book.
Third, we need to improve literacy rates and reading skills in this country and globally—otherwise we will lose our ability for creating new readers.
Fourth, technology threatens our need to read books. As technology improves and the Internet continues to grow, people may see less and less of a need for books to solve their problems, fulfill their curiosities, or further their dreams. Instead, new gadgets and discoveries will capture our imaginations.
On the other hand, books will always be needed and desired. Nothing quite compares to what they offer. A book informs, inspires, enlightens and entertains. It records life and teaches us—or it imagines a new life and allows you to live it out. Books are everything, unlike anything.
The future of books won’t depend on trees or technology or anything but the value society places on them. Books are the currency to a free society and should the book become devalued, commoditized or ignored, it shall mean that humanity is collapsing. Call it a book apocalypse.
What a book that would make!
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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