Friday, March 19, 2010

What I See In My Crystal Ball

Even though I gobble up audio books like candy, I still have a lot of real books. Growing up I always liked the idea of one day having a “library”. Yeah, it turns out I have more books than can fit in a single room, so there are book cases in pretty much every room of my house.

Of all the books that I own, my favorite is called “The Children of 2002”. It’s a children’s book that was written in 1902 that predicts the future of how kids will live in the new melenium. There are lots of steam powered flying cars and other complex gadgets still based in old technology. It’s like the original steampunk. Obviously, it’s an awesome book.

I have no idea what kind of gadgets the kids of 2110 will grow up with. And everything I can predict is based on computer technology that will be obsilete in a couple of decades. Still, I feel very comfortable predicting the future of books.

In 2110, I expect very few people will have a “home library” and floor to ceiling bookcases in multiple rooms, that will be about as common as travel by zepilin. Why, because like it or not, e-books are going to change the world.

The rise of digital media is about as drastic a change as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Newspapers and magezines are rapidly becoming obsolete as more and more people get their news online. And even though e-books currently make up 3-5% of the market share, I expect that by 2020 they will make up more than 50%. And by 2110, 99%. Just consider this. iTunes was launched in April of 2003, 7 years ago. Now tell me when was the last time you bought a CD? I think I bought my last CD about 6 years ago.

I’ve had a kindle for about 7 months. The number of paper books I read hasn’t dropped all that much. I’m still gifted books that I want to read, and there is a Border’s a block away from my office that sucks me in on more lunch breaks than it probably should. The real surprise is how much more I read period.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I listen to an average of 3-5 books per week. But since I got my kindle, I’m also reading an average of 1 e-book per week on top of that. But I rarely read more than 2 paper books a month.

I just keep my kindle in my perse and pull it out whenever I have some downtime. I don’t have to head to the bookstore, or my home library to find something to read. I can buy a new book and have it delivered to me in 30 seconds. So if I finish a book half way through my commute (I commute by train) I can buy and start a new book imedately.

They say that like 20% of the population reads 80% of the books. I may read/listen to 100+ books per year, but there are a lot of people out there who read 2 books per year. It may take a long time for the very sparatic readers to get e-readers. Probably that wont happen until every phone comes with an e-reader app. But I expect within the next 5-10 years at least 75% of the people who read 50+ books per year will own an e-reader. And once that happens, e-books will make up the largest chunk of the book market. And Walmart can cover the rest.

Joke of the Day
Why did the librarian slip and fall on the library floor?
Because she was in the non-friction section.

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