I wonder whether the advent of ebooks could be more important than we guess.
I'm currently working on Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. One of the characters sees a Gutenberg printed book for the first time, looks at the church building, with its stories told in stone carving and says about the book, "This will kill that."
Hugo then adds a chapter on the significance of changing written media. Here's a quotation:
"In the fifteenth century everything changes.
Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.
The book is about to kill the edifice.
The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented intelligence.
In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once."
Arguably, we are at the beginning of another revolution.
(NB I'm hoping to get the book uploaded later today. The source file needed a lot of work.)