Where To?

The book of the future will look like the book of the past

If that happens, book publishers can either become like movie studios, licensing their goods to every available platform, or like the recording industry, realizing too late that in the absence of action their customers will take matters into their own hands.

Kelly's future doesn't scare me, and I don't feel sorry for book publishers. I'd love to be able to cross-reference titles I've read, to mix-and-match ideas and genres, to look things up within a book as I was reading it, or after (though probably not with a novel, which I'd rather just dive into). And publishers, well, they've been putting out so much junk, foisting fake new genres on us in a desperate bid for fresh readers (chick lit, anyone?), resisting every possible move toward digitalization with lawsuits and defensive postures, that I almost think they have it coming.

But then I think of my friends, the ones in publishing right now and the ones looking toward it, and I'm chastened. If physical books will continue to exist forever — and I believe they will, with a faith that might be more hopeful than logical — then there will always be book publishers. They'll just be a whole lot smaller. Like your stereo.

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