I’ve been writing books and publishing them for many years and it has been apparent to me for some time that technology is changing the publishing industry in a big way just as it has changed other industries in the past.
Let me give you 3 examples of how technology has radically changed the publishing industry in just the last 5-10 years:
1. Print on demand – It is so much easier to publish a book these days than it was before. In the old days just 20 years ago you had to find a publisher who was willing to produce your book. If you were lucky enough to secure a publishing contract for your book, the publisher had to print, distribute, and sell thousands of copies to realize a profit.
Enter Print on Demand. With technology now, a writer can publish his own book and can get as many of them printed as he wishes, , , even down to a single book if that’s what he wants.
Another example of this is when I order class materials for my IT Manager Institute. I log into my Mimeo account and order the number of sets of material I need, enter the shipping address and they are there the next day anywhere in the US or in 3 days anywhere in the world. What used to take me hours to prepare for a class now takes a few minutes.
2. e-Books – Amazon and now Apple and Barnes & Noble have legitimized the e-book. I’ve been delivering my e-books to IT managers all over the world since 2001 so it’s not really new to me, but I saw a story on a News program the other night where one of the newscasters asked the question, “Do you think e-books will change how we read things in the future?”
It’s already happening. My wife reads all the time, but she rarely buys a paper book anymore. She just finds it on Amazon and downloads it to her Kindle. Not only is it cheaper and easier for her, , , she likes reading from the Kindle better. More and more people are moving toward technologies like this for their information (newspaper, magazines, music, TV, etc.).
The introduction of the Apple iPad will only accelerate this media migration we are watching take place before our eyes.
3. Katie’s school – My brother just told me about an interesting thing that’s happened in his daughter’s school. It’s a private school so they are a little ahead of public schools in embracing technology.
Part of Katie’s tuition for the school year includes the cost of an Apple Notebook. Every student gets one. All their books and most of their training materials are stored on the computer or accessed from the school’s network and Internet.They are also required to download specific Apps, , , most of which are free.
The point is that paper books may no longer be used in the classroom of the future, , , too bulky, too expensive, and they wear out. One good laptop that’s taken care of can last you throughout high school or college.
I don’t think paper books will disappear completely, but the use of technology to read our literature is only going to expand and when it does, it whittles away at the volume of paper books that will be produced in the future.