The ‘Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected

Books have been unchanged for a century or more. Even ebooks are just print books digitized. But digital technology has transformed the entire ecosystem around them: Print-on-demand, Kickstarter, social media, email newsletters, audiobooks, podcasting, and more. [Craig Mod] www.wired.com

I can think of two reasons why books themselves have been unchanged, despite breathless 1990s predictions to the contrary — and yeah these reasons are contradictory:

  • Books are perfect for what they are. Mass-published print books have been evolving for a thousand years, and the written word has evolved over ten thousand years. Books are mature technology, like shovels and forks and tables, refined to perfection with only a little bit of fiddling left to do around the edges. Sure, other media emerge, but they’re other media; a movie is not a book, nor is a podcast.
  • Monopolization by Amazon stifles innovation. We’re not going to see ebook innovation until somebody competes with the Kindle.

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