The Future of The Book

Perhaps I am dangerously optimistic, but I believe we are entering the book publishing industry at a very dynamic and historically significant time. The book is not dying and will never die. The changes that the digital age is bringing to book publishing is very possibly a blessing disguised as a threat. Yes, I think traditional print book publishing will shrink for a while but it does not scare me. Yes, I believe large companies will continue to merge and dominate the market for at least the next decade. Yes, I believe retail giants will continue to threaten the prosperity of independent booksellers. But I don’t believe these things will last forever or even for our lifetimes. People crave creativity. People need diversity to thrive and will seek it even under the worse of circumstances. Ultimately, it is the consumer who dictates the markets.

I believe that the ebook revolution has the potential of throwing the world into a period of enlightenment. I hope for and foresee increased literacy rates, wide spread and cheap access to information, and the honorable application of knowledge. The world is shrinking and it is because of advancements in communications. Literature is, and always has been, the most sacred form of communication. The fact that a teacher in Minnesota can publish a book that can be printed in Canada, read online by a mother in Hong Kong, and then translated for a student in Buenos Aires in a matter of hours is a phenomenon. It is also a phenomenon that will become increasingly prevalent as technology continues to advance. These are the types of miraculous trends I hope to see more of in the future of book publishing, trends that are only just now beginning to appear on most people’s radar. Self-publishing will explode. Equal access to information will prevail. Education will become less restricted. International borders will blur. Life will be good.

Or, my optimism is completely rooted in my personal philosophies regarding the unhindered access to and honorable application of knowledge, and I’m actually blind to the truth. Perhaps, in reality, the book publishing industry is doomed to crumple under economic pressures and quietly place creativity in a warehouse in a desert somewhere. Maybe independent booksellers and used bookstores will fade entirely into the past. Book publishers will wither and congregate under the single title “Not Amazon,” and Amazon itself will morph into an evil empire complete with drones. Textbooks will be issued through government sanctioned computer mainframes. Advertisements and videos will be embedded into the classics. Digital rights management will put traceable leashes on all literature and books will cease to be possessions. Your ability to read will be dictated by a “Terms of Agreement” contract. Your library will be repossessed if you break the rules and life will suck.