NCMarsh wrote:Paper will not die, and here's why:
all of the arguments that center on what's happened with audio, video, etc. miss a critical difference between those media and paper.
Recorded audio and film/video have always required a "reader" of some form or another. I can't hold a CD up to my ear and hear the music. I am dependent on a device to translate the information stored into a physical experience that I can enjoy.
... A book, however, is a fundamentally different medium because it is self-contained and -- for the purposes of my life time -- permanent. Provided I have my eyesight, can read the language, and the physical object is still intact, there is no barrier to my being able to read a book produced at any time, by any company, anywhere in the world. ...
Nathan, Im a forever bibliophile, so I hope that paper will never die. But I think theres a bigger point to this than the self-contained nature of a physical book: IMO, the crucial point that many miss in promoting e-books over physical books is the fact that e-book readers thus far very poorly mimic the experience of reading a physical book. Until that happens, IMO e-books will be a poor cousin of physical books.
Music is aural in nature, and books are visual AND tactile in nature. Nobody cares how they store and recall their music so long as they can hear their music. And all the iPod and others have done is to make it easier to store and recall music, but they do not change the very nature (auditory) of music Led Zeppelin essentially sounds the same on vinyl, cassette, 8-track or on an iPod. But I would argue that e-books fundamentally shift the nature (functionally and visually) of a book, and thus there will be far greater consumer resistance to switching over to e-books until the readers experience of using an e-book approximates that of reading a physical book.
There are other drawbacks to e-books, especially e-book readers: durability (can it get repeatedly dropped kicked, get buried in sand at the beach, get wet, etc.), eye strain, size and legibility, resolution (you wanna look at an image of the Mona Lisa in 80dpi?), color, etc.
Bob Cunningham wrote: ... The point is that print encyclopedias are dead or dying! The encyclopedia companies themselves blame Wikipedia. ...
Understand your point, Bob, and it certainly seems valid, so far as it goes. But in the link you provided, I read nothing which said that the encyclopedia companies blame Wikipedia for the demise of their print business. Where did you read that?
Bob Cunningham wrote:
More details on the number I quoted can be found here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/06/fo ... int-sales/
The point is that the major players in the book selling world see e-books as the future of book sales (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10105
Perhaps they are wrong, but given that most successful businesses know their own industry, and that these companies are currently investing large amounts of money into e-books, I would think that this should pause to anyone give anyone arguing against the wide spread adoption of e-books.
Bob, from the link you provided, two things are clear: the 35% number is wrong (by the authors own admission) and is closer to 25%. Second, the metric is in unit sales, but only for books which are published both in print and in e-book form. Unfortunately, that tells us nothing about overall market share of e-books in the publishing business.
Now, regarding the massive investments in e-book readers being made by Amazon and others, there is a cold, hard economic reality when it comes to technologies like this: if you dont get in early, you will be shut out of the market. True, the massive investment does probably reflect a belief in the future e-book market, but by the same token, history is littered with examples of companies making huge investments to establish a technological standard, but losing big-time on the gamble.