As we look forward to our (mostly) paperless future, I have been noticing a few predictions out there that I do not agree with and wish to quash like bug. I’ve previously tackled the Top 10 Myths about E-books themselves, but I thought I’d do a broader one about the reading and publishing world as a whole. Behold!
Man, I love that word. Behold! I am wielding an exclamation point! Behold! Behold!
1. Due to an avalanche of self-published and poorly edited e-books, readers will be submerged in a big pile of suck.
The avalanche is already here. Go to Amazon and you’ll find a million books for sale with more uploaded every day, and yet we’re all still able to find the books we want to read. You won’t have to go wading through a giant slush pile in order to find something to read. Good books will find you, just like they already do.
2. Publishers are going to disappear.
There’s more to making a book than uploading it to Amazon. Even in the e-book era publishers offer a range of services that are not easy to duplicate. While they will no longer be the iron-clad necessity that they used to be in the print era, publishers will still be around.
3. Paper books will disappear.
Some people just love the paper, and not to worry. Even in a world where we read primarily e-books, print will still be an option. Where there is a customer, there is a seller.
4. E-books are going to destroy libraries.
As of last October there were over 5,000 libraries who offer e-books. While I haven’t yet heard of an e-reader lending program, I have heard of libraries that lend iPods loaded with digital audiobooks, so e-reader programs can’t be far behind. (UPDATE: actually they’re already here. See comments section for more)
5. All authors will have an equal shot.
The future will definitely be more equal as authors no longer have to scale the print publishing gates in order to find readers and can upload their manuscript to e-bookstores. Everyone will have a chance, but some chances will be more equal than others. The advantage will still go to authors with platforms and those launched by major publishers. Sorry, all you egalitarians out there.
6. The book world will be divided between a few megabestsellers and everyone else selling only two copies. It will be impossible for authors without platforms to get anyone to pay attention to them.
While, as I mentioned in point number 5, the early advantage will go to those with existing platforms, hits will come out of nowhere, including from people without huge platforms and a built-in audience. Just like the Double Rainbow guy. All it takes for a book to go viral is one person recommending a book to two friends and the process repeating several million times.
7. We’re all going to drop our e-readers into our bathtubs amid a massive, world-wide power outage and multi-government e-book deletion conspiracy that causes us to permanently lose every book the world has ever published.
Possible. But unlikely.
8. The reading world will be divided between those who can afford an e-reader and those who can’t.
While I think this is a legitimate concern, over the long term: 1) I think the price of e-readers and multifunctional tablets are going to decline to the point of affordability for just about everyone, 2) print will still exist, 3) libraries will still exist, 4) e-books themselves will be cheaper than their print counterparts.
9. Bookstores will disappear.
Let’s be honest, a lot of them probably will. But the good and enterprising ones who follow the Powell’s model and embrace, rather than fear, the online world will have a reason to survive. Bookstores won’t survive because we’re nostalgic about them, they’ll survive if they continue to give us reasons to buy from them.
10. E-books will evolve into all-knowing robots that will implant carnivorous baby e-books inside our brains and devour our heads from within.
Actually that one’s true.