Going through my feeds, I came across this article about fantasy writer Peter Brett who wrote over 100,000 words of his epic novel, The Warded Man on an HP iPAQ 6515. I saw this initially on Crunchgear by the way. Can you imagine? I have a rough time tapping out a e-mail and could not imagine writing a entire book on an iPAQ.
The article is actually a interview with Brett, where he’s asked about his experience and his opinion of the Amazon Kindle. He loves the Kindle and can see both sides of the Text To Speech feature, but he brings up something I have been thinking about for a while. That is the death of the publishing industry as we know it, and it’s rebirth into the digital realm.
This touches close to home, as until recently my Mom worked for a company called Anderson News; they recently closed up shop and laid everyone off. Anderson was one of those companies who stocked the magazine racks at Walmart.
In conversations I have had with Mom since, I keep telling her that books will be going away thanks to the Kindle and other devices like it. Mom says no, and lists the complexities of the device and the fact you can’t do things like read in the tub or near water. While those are things that certainly are true, the fact that paper is increasing in cost is going to drive traditional publishing houses to implement digital books or fail. It costs money to produce these books, and while it still isn’t free to produce a digital book, it’s much cheaper than a print book as you just have to complete one copy. After this is done, you can reproduce the book many times over with ease and at almost zero cost. The downside to this may be the author gets less money per copy sold.
No matter what happens, this is fundamentally going to change the publishing industry. Those that are successful will be the ones who make the change. Those that don’t will fail.
So what do you think? Are newspapers, magazines and books heading out to pasture? Will books and newspapers who don’t make the transition be around in 20 years?