I was just watching the presentation of the iPad (I want, but I have no money). I’ve been reading for a while about the death of the written book thanks to Kindle and other devices. I think it’s exaggerated for reasons I outlined in my previous post on movie streaming. As long as big business thinks digital copies are licenses, not ownership, people will not give up their hard copies. But I do think we’re going to see a bigger shift toward e-books.
The reason? The advent of the e-book is going to slowly shift an enormous amount of power away from publishers and toward writers. Think about it. If Apple runs their ibook store like they run, say, their iphone aps, the effect will be to shatter the strangehold big publishers have over publication. If a writer can upload his book to ibooks and get $1 per download (as app writers do), it becomes possible to make a living as a writer without having to play pattycake with the big publishing houses.
In the end, I still don’t think the physical book will die. But I see a shift of publishing from the editing/marketing/soliciting business into a straight forward printing directly from e-books — i.e., publishers will become more like Easton Press — selling you any book you want in a beautiful robust edition.