Tuesday, February 03, 2009

book review - Print is Dead

There is clearly one school of thought, and you can understand its magnetism, that looks at the iPod and argues the same is going to happen for books.

There are chapters in this book by Jeff Gomez that do just that and then add in examples of changing consumption and viewing habits with television and newspapers to back up the fundamental arguments that not only is change coming, but it is already here.

In that argument he is persuasive peeling back the behaviour of the digital generations and commenting on just how much data I sent and read across the internet. Unlike most of the other books on this subject, written before the internet became quite the force it is today, he is not looking to a future time when digital reading starts but acknowledging that it has started.

That then raises the next obvious question about whether or not the publishing industry has learnt anything from their musical counterparts. Are they ready to embrace change and update business models that have not been radically tinkered with since the introduction of the paperback?

Gomez is not so sure that they are. Most seem to have resisted making any moves quite happy to believe that the initial e-reader products have been failures and therefore so is the whole concept. But their audience has embraced change.

Also there are warnings for authors that fail to move with the times and understand that what they need to do is increase their interactivity. If they opt for the reclusive life then they may well end up with no visibility and as a result turn away a potential readership.

But all is not lost and Gomez believes that many will make the transition and the future of the book – if you view that to mean a collection of words rather than an object – remains strong.

In terms of adding to an existing canon of works on the subject Gomez is clearly the most up to date because this was only published last year and because of technology he is able to maintain a running dialogue on his web site.

Easy to read but there are some big things to digest here and not all of them will have you nodding in agreement. A book is different from a compact disc and parallels between the two can only go so far.

No comments: