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Old 06-11-2010, 12:28 AM   #16
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Someday -- sure. I'm 45 -- so perhaps in my lifetime. Consider that I spent $3,000 for my first computer about 20 years ago -- and my phone has far more computing power now. In the next 20 years I can't see why ebook technology will make paper books an expensive niche market.

At some point (well within 20 years) -- it will cease being economical to sell paper books as a mass market item. In 20 years we will no longer have a "non-technological" elderly population. 20 years from now, folks 65 yrs old will have grown up in the video age.

So yeah, the writing is on the wall for the mass market of paper books in developed countries. Not sure there's much of a mass market for paper books in the third world as it is.

Lee
I think the time frame will be much shorter, 5-10 years. Even those who are 60 today have spent 25 years in the computer age and 20 in the mobile phone age. These things are natural to most of them -- except the glue sniffers. Ereaders are so easy to use already, it is just distribution, price, speed, and screen quality that is holding them back.

By that time paper books and newspapers will be an expensive niche market, just as you said. Mainly for books with high quality photos, etc.
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Old 06-11-2010, 02:31 AM   #17
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Old 06-11-2010, 03:10 AM   #18
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By that time paper books and newspapers will be an expensive niche market, just as you said. Mainly for books with high quality photos, etc.
I suspect that Print On Demand will be the only way to get paper versions of books that are not bestsellers (which justify the press run) or specialty books, such as the ones with high-quality photos as you mentioned.

Five to ten years? Sure, I can see it happening. In fact I'll be very surprised if ebooks aren't the majority of the market in ten years. Surely in pure text fiction they will be.
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:11 AM   #19
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Most certainly. Maybe in 100-150 years, if humans are still alive.
Why do you think in many sci-fi or post-apocalypses books, paper is so precious. Very often it worth more than gold. Probably at some point green parties will win and prohibit killing trees for paper.

Did you ever think about this thing...that we are not the first people on this planet. That some 20K b.c. there were other civilisations but curiously enough we don't find much of evidence. Maybe they became very advanced and stopped using paper too. Then some electromagnetic blast killed all devices and some plague wiped out the planet of the parasites, i.e., us, humans...
When we started all over again we had no heritage...

Oops. I should zip it
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Old 06-11-2010, 06:53 AM   #20
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I am sure I could find many examples were technology could have been a threat to an existing product, yet these existing solutions are still in existence today. We all thought email would kill regular mail it never happened. The same is true for mobile phones versus regular phones. These new technologies have just facilitated communication consumption.
I think the same might happen for books versus e-books. I don’t think e-books will kill paper books; they will serve a different purpose and probably facilitate content consumption.
E-books will force the paper book economy to reinvent itself and deliver chipper books, not cutting trees and not producing Carbone dioxide.
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:49 AM   #21
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I am sure I could find many examples were technology could have been a threat to an existing product, yet these existing solutions are still in existence today. We all thought email would kill regular mail it never happened. The same is true for mobile phones versus regular phones
Email and mobile phone actually do phase out snail mail and landlines. It doesn't happen over night, but the process has started and moves quite fast.
Today kids are unfamiliar with old fashioned land line phones without number buttons, you know...with old fashioned dial rings
More and more companies urge customers to use e-bills vs. paper bills.
More and more families forgo landlines altogether and use mobile phones only.

We will see...
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Old 06-11-2010, 08:59 AM   #22
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Paper will never disappear. There will always be people who enjoy the heft of a good book, it's texture and feel. I love my kobo ereader but will still get books from the library and will still keep the books I own and even add to them on occasion. I look at it as a vinyl/CD thing. Purists will always value the real thing.
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Old 06-11-2010, 09:22 AM   #23
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When we consider two things--

that electronic devices are becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous, now available even in third-world countries (in fact, in greater numbers than books in many places) and allowing us to read on almost all of them--

and the fact that our ecological problems are waking us up to the fact that we need to preserve our forests, in fact plant new ones, instead of harvesting them for a disposable, carbon-releasing product like paper--

the likelihood that paper will continue to be used for mass-market publication is virtually zero.

Paper will become a niche product, much like the formerly common parchment, vellum and sheepskin are today.
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Old 06-11-2010, 01:22 PM   #24
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Some great responses to my question! I am leaning toward the "exclusive" aspect, where only certain hardcover books will be published in collectors editions. Sort of like how "Book of Hours" were for the upper classes before the printing press. Expensive, treasured items.
I probably will buy paperbacks for beach reading, though. I would imagine a lot of people feel the same way I do, so maybe (cheaper) pb's continue for a while?
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Old 06-12-2010, 10:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Suzy Kindlefan View Post
I probably will buy paperbacks for beach reading, though. I would imagine a lot of people feel the same way I do, so maybe (cheaper) pb's continue for a while?
I'd expect the cheaper PBs to be the first to go, when the convenience of obtaining ebooks outstrips the extra cost of producing and distributing PBs. Ebooks are a "pure profit" product, requiring virtually no costs to produce and distribute once the book has been finished by the editors. Once publishers figure out how to make that equation work... bye-bye PBs.
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #26
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I think this is a curious discussion about the inevitable. This is the same discussion that has been going on in the camera world. Film may not totally go away but it still can be considered dead. I love the arguments about there will always be a group of people that will buy a good paper book. Maybe we all fit in this category from time to time. Still the economics are not there. The cost of keeping book stores open require more than a bunch of people interested in paper books. Can you walk into a Tower Record store? Here we are talking about CD's that still exist. Unfortunately the ease of MP3 downloads trump walking into a music store. Or for that matter buying from Amazon. Businesses like Amazon may delay the demise of paper even as the brick and mortar retails stores close. Still, the economics foreshadow the rise of digital books over paper. I bet game over in five years.
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:38 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astra View Post
Did you ever think about this thing...that we are not the first people on this planet. That some 20K b.c. there were other civilisations but curiously enough we don't find much of evidence. Maybe they became very advanced and stopped using paper too. Then some electromagnetic blast killed all devices and some plague wiped out the planet of the parasites, i.e., us, humans...
When we started all over again we had no heritage...
Hey, write up that s-f story and I'll buy it!

I think you're more likely to find real-world scenarios where the people neglected to be environmentally conscious and thus over-hunted or over-fished or in some other way destroyed the eco-culture that fed them. Wasn't that the case on Easter Island, for instance?

The problem with paper isn't JUST the deforestation, but the horrible, toxic chemicals used in the process. One place you do not want to live/fish/breathe is anywhere near a paper mill.
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Old 06-13-2010, 02:34 AM   #28
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I'd expect the cheaper PBs to be the first to go, when the convenience of obtaining ebooks outstrips the extra cost of producing and distributing PBs. Ebooks are a "pure profit" product, requiring virtually no costs to produce and distribute once the book has been finished by the editors. Once publishers figure out how to make that equation work... bye-bye PBs.
I completely agree with that statement. There's virtually no cost to produce an ebook vs the production costs plus the cost of shipping to get an actual book into your hot little hands.

I admit that I still buy books as sometimes they're more cost effective. You can use discount cards and coupons on them and as of now, most places won't let you do that unless they sell ebooks exclusively (and sometimes those are more expensive to begin with). That probably won't change unless consumers start demanding discounts on ebooks from them. Whomever "them" is.

But aside from that, ereaders are lightweight, you can choose the size text, and you can carry an entire library on it. The weight and the ability to choose a large font is a HUGE plus for seniors. Especially if you're on a limited income and can't carry a huge heavy book (large print books tend to be thicker and more expensive). Having an entire library that's digital means less books taking up space. And if you ever channel surf nowadays you will find at least one show about people who are either hoarders or their clutter is out of control. For an avid reader who will reread books (namely lil ol moi), that's another plus in their favor.

Despite all those nails in book's coffin, there is one spark of life that ereaders can't extinguish: Author promotions. From Oprah handing out copies of your latest masterpiece to her studio audience, to doing the bookstore circuit- ebooks just stand there in the dust looking confused and lost. Yes Oprah could post the book on her site and let you download it for free, but it's not the same as getting a something in your hand to take home with you. As for signings what are they going to sign? Your precious ereader? No way jose. They're not promoting the company that makes your ereader, they're promoting their BOOK.

I know I'm straddling the fence here but the voices in my head were having an argument and it came on here.

Actually aside from books being more cost effective sometimes, I still like the act of turning pages. Yet the idea of having a digital library appeals to the practical side of me. I can buy as many books as I want and the only space they'll take up is in my hard drive & ereader- not on my shelves.

Sometimes I feel like my head is filled with the Hatfields and the McCoys...
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Old 06-13-2010, 04:05 AM   #29
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I think it really doesn't matter. Times change, it's more a matter of efficiency.

What did we do before paper? We passed stories down from mouth to mouth. Not very efficient, but verbal stories still exist today, albeit very limited. The internet all but wiped out encylopedias, but they still exist, albiet very limited. We don't paint on cave walls today, but arguably we still communticate with graffitti, not extremely efficient, but you could argue cave painting still exists - no?

Paper books will still exist for quite some time, I am sure. I don't think they will ever completely disappear, but they are likely to become more limited as time passes. E-books are just in the birth stage, really. They have a long way to go, but in alot of ways, it is a more effecient way of communication and will become more stable in the future. It also allows more people to communicate more effectively than paper. With a digital publication it is possible to reach more readers and more quickly, than before. It also allows new authors less of a struggle to get their work out there, than is possible with paper. You are no longer resticted, in many ways.

Its really a case of the medium vs the message. The content isn't the message, the medium is. Think about it.

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Old 06-13-2010, 04:19 AM   #30
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I dont see it happening with current technology. There would still need to be major advances in e-readers. Also, something may have to legislated to reduce print materials due to environmental concerns.

At the moment, we have plenty of virgin paper courtesy of the pine beetle infestation.
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