The future of books?

Posted on 10 January 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , , |

I know this is a topic I’ve blogged about before but I’m having second thoughts. I’m beginning to think that the future of books is in electronics. There’s reasons for this and it’s to with three websites I’ve found this week.

Books are generally made out of wood pulp and that is getting harder and harder to grow. I understand that here in Australia we’re growing pine trees for the wood pulp industry but it takes year and years for the plantation to grow to be big enough to be of any use. There are countries around the world which is destroying their forests and using the wood to make paper and at some point they have to stop unless they plan on sacrificing their country for this purpose as at some point they will run out of forests to cut down. This is also not good for the animal population within the forest but I’ll leave someone else to write about that.

There are a lot of books published each year which are pulped as they are surplus to requirements. Some of them make their way out to the remaindered market and you’ll know which they are as they have a texta mark on either the top or the base or the cover will have a hole in it. Books sold as remaindered don’t make the author any money. To get some figures you can read this article.

One of the ways round all of this is to make books out of some other material which is more easily manufactured. There are a number of possibilities but they still rely on farming, although some of them rely on things that would normally be thrown out so that could be a bonus. Anyway, you can read the article for yourself, it’s on an interesting blog and one which I contribute to twice a month.

The article that made me stop and put all this together is this one. Someone has apparently written some software to put colour into ebooks. It’s finally possible to put children’s books onto an ereader. This has enormous potential and you’ll see the article has the same book on the computer as the ereader. It means that you can enlarge it for those children with vision problems and it makes it easier to read to a child, no more crick necks from craning around the book or trying to read it upsidedown, now just put it onto the computer and you can point. You could even use a projector to make it even larger.

I understand I’m starting to get really excited here and that may not be good from a pre-loved book seller but I see the future is happening right now and I’m going to be a part of it. I don’t see the total demise of printed books but there are many advantages to books on screen and the biggest one I see is the advantages to the environment that can accrue from not knocking down forests to make paper.

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