TechCrunch picked up remarks made by Nicholas Negroponte that predict the demise of the print book in the next five years.
Part of Negroponte’s role is to challenge our thinking about media but the film and music metaphors he uses break down for me a bit.
The media consumption experience for photos and music didn’t necessarily change when film and vinyl (and soon enough, CDs) disappeared. Albums still get filled with printed photos, even if we create the physical form ourselves. We can play digital music on the same equipment we used for albums and CDs.
Switching from physical to digital for long-form reading is easy for some and hard for others. It takes me several hours to read a book, and the devices I’ve tried are at best tolerable for me. If I am going to spend a long time reading, I prefer print.
I anticipate a time when books are no longer printed for inventory, but I don’t think that means print as a medium is dead. Print will still attract a smaller market of people who prefer the format and are probably going to pay a higher price for it. They’ll also actually own their books.