The Death of Traditional Book Publishing

At this time of year, I indulge in one of my favorite pastimes: browsing bookstores. The theory is that I’m looking for gifts for friends and family, while the reality is that I also end up at the till with books for me. Guessing that most of us are bibliophiles, I thought you’d be interested in the above article. The link is to a publisher’s view of the future of the book publishing industry. The link takes you to “The death of traditional book publishing”; there is a link from there to another post by the same publisher, which responds to responses to the earlier post. While I’ve embraced technology for work purposes to a large degree, I still maintain there is a role for traditional hardcopy books in legal research. That is even more true for personal reading pleasure…Comments?


  1. His vision is very interesting. It would be especially useful for those who travel a lot.

    Some things we would miss in having electronic only for our personal reading:
    – books on the bookshelf at home – makes a room feel cozy and warm, says something about a person’s personality
    – second hand bookstores would go by the wayside (transformed into rare book stores?)
    – public libraries would have few books (if libraries still exist as a physical public space, that is)
    – no more fundraiser book sales put on by various organizations, including public libraries
    – no more BookCrossing

    This list presumes that the rights to any work downloaded would not be transferable.

    A lot of this is already happening with the music industry–the small music store in your neighbourhood has either disappeared or been somewhat transformed. The one in my neighbourhood, still somehow surviving, also sells furniture as a way to use the extra space because of lower stock levels.

  2. Ah, the perennial e-book arrival. I’ve got dressed up for it so many times now that I think I’ll wait until it knocks on my door. Probably will happen, though, if electronic paper works out, as he suggests — which it probably already has: didn’t I see something in today’s Globe about electronic paper wrapping products in supermarkets so packages will flash at us?!

    Will I like it? Not much. There was a song once, by the Asbury Jukes, I think, titled “It Ain’t the Meat (It’s the Motion)” — a kind of poor man’s McLuhan, I guess; I disagree: it’s the meat for me. Books smell, they have heft, they vary in size and colour and finish, their covers feel in your hand, and they stand, or lie, on the shelves in places that you can find blindfolded, but don’t, because you remember each and every one of them.

    I spent far too long in the university, where no one has eyes or ears, and everyone thinks that text is information that is somehow conveyed without beautiful type faces and paper of different weights, densities and colours.

    Maybe the old printing presses will come back again, when e-books have taken all the how-to books and the chicken soup for the poor soul books. Now there’s a happy thought.