More on E-books and the Future of Books

In a follow-up to our recent post on the future of electronic books and libraries, check out this neat article from the LA Times about all the innovative ways books are being transformed by technology.  

Apple’s new iPads, for example, have multi-media potential to create “living books” with links to pictures, videos and audio files; and a new electronic publisher called Vook (combining the words “video” and “book”) is reissuing old, out-of-print titles jazzed up with video and sound.

How books are written and published is also changing.  Some readers are experimenting with collaborative books in online fan communities, coming up with different story-lines for popular characters or creating totally new characters (fanfiction.net). 

Novels are even being written through text-messaging  — one such recently discovered text-message novelist was awarded a $10,000 advance by a “real” publisher, St. Martin’s.  Other developments include online swap meets for digital books (scrib.com) and social networking or book club sites such as goodreads.com.

As the article puts it:

Now that anyone with an Internet connection — or even a cellphone — effectively owns a digital printing press, the distinction between professional and amateur writers is rapidly blurring.

Developments are obviously moving very rapidly.  What will eventually emerge as “the new eBay of book publishing” (i.e., the dominant electronic vehicle for online publishing in much the same way as eBay has come to dominate online auctions)?  I suppose that’s anybody’s guess. 

Similarly, it is still not clear how the mere reading of electronic books will shake out.  Will we need a dedicated device like Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad to read them, or will Google — which can be accessed on any computer — ultimately dominate the future of e-books?        

But surely all must agree these are interesting times for the book. 

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