Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The Future Of Books?
I recently watched the Back to the Future trilogy with my 8- and 11-year old. They loved watching Doc and Michael J. Fox go from 1985 to 1955 to 1885 and back. Watching the movies reminded me how even the immediate past seems worlds apart from today’s world - and how our future will unpredictably but significantly be so different from today. It’s a mistake to think we’ll have more of the same -- only better, faster, cheaper. No, the future will be something completely different from today – even the constant of human activity could be altered. What will books 50 years from now be like?
I assume – and hope – books will be around in 2066. Perhaps there’ll be other ways to “read” a book other than print, digital, and audio. Maybe our bodies will be altered so they become enhanced in a way that allows them to download or consume information in a way that’s very different than today. In fact, if we alter people’s abilities to read faster, for longer, and to retain more information, we would see a huge change in the book industry.
Another change that I hope comes about is that literacy rates rise significantly. Roughly 1 in 9 global citizens – some 800 million people are illiterate. If we can cut that number down significantly, we’d have not only more readers and book consumers and writers – but more people participating in society rather than burdening it.
Books will move towards being multimedia sources of content and perhaps even multi-dimensional. Perhaps everyone will have a virtual reality system that allows them to visualize or live in the worlds created by the fiction they read.
Books will certainly cover different topics than what’s covered today. As science, politics, and religion evolve, so will what’s written about or by those involved in significant sectors. With new technological advances, medical breakthroughs, and scientific discoveries, non-fiction and novels will retire some subjects while opening up doors to entirely new ones.
Things like driverless cars, as they become the norm and get adopted by the masses, could allow more people time to read books, which is always a good thing.
If the world can figure out a better economic system, more people will have the financial ability to buy more books. Right now the 62 wealthiest people in the world are worth as much as half the world’s population – 3.6 billion people. Socialism, capitalism, communism. Say what you want about them but a system that relegates so many to have so little doesn’t sound fair nor helpful.
If a world can figure out how not to kill people, from war and crime to suicide or manmade diseases, we’d have more people around to buy more books.
Perhaps the planet will contract – mass disease, war, or financial collapse could cause the world to go backwards. Terrorism and other factors could play a role in the world becoming one that doesn’t value or support books.
One thing is for sure. The future will be radically different from today just as today is quite different from life centuries ago. We’d like to think books will remain a constant no matter what else happens to the world, but we really don’t know with any certainty as to what 2066 and beyond will bring us.
2016 Book Marketing & Book Publicity Toolkit