This Thursday Billy Abbott, Chris Meade & myself will be leading a session at Amplified08 on The Future of the Book. I've spent a lot of this morning thinking about books and reading. Much of it's based on what I see on the London Underground. Only last week I was at an event where someone said "I've never seen anyone with an e-reader on the Tube and I use the Tube as barometer of what people read".
I have seen a person with e-reader - in fact it was a very early e-reader back in November 2005. But so far he's the only person that I'd seen on the Tube with one. But that doesn't mean to say people aren't consuming books electronically or on some other mobile or portable device.
The ad in the first picture is for a current campaign on the Tube for audible.co.uk where you can download books and listen to them on your iPod. As far as I know, there could be a number of people listening to books rather than music on their mp3s. I downloaded Jamillah Knowles' great podcast on e-books from Radio 5's Pods & Blogs and listened to it the Tube.
Well I tried to listen to it, the ambient noise on the Tube & loud announcements aren't great for listening to spoken words (or perhaps I need a better set of headphones).
We're going to be leading a discussion on a number of areas including:
What's the future for the traditional paper book? Where do e-books fit in?
What's the future of the e-book? What are the pros and cons of their adoption over paper books?
What's the future of reading? How will the increase in the usage of mobile devices change the use of books (both paper and ‘e’)?
At the end of this, we want to come up with some suggestions and thoughts about what we as consumers and creators of books, stories, experiences & content do to stay current with the trends for books & reading.
Are we going to see a Tube of the future where people aren't reading physical books any more? Best selling author Phillip Pullman is currently wringing his hands as a school library will be made "surplus to requirements after Christmas" and will be replaced by a 'virtual learning environment'. He's calling this a 'byword for philistinism and ignorance'
Is it really that bad? I imagine the kids are still going to be reading books in some way - do they have to be on paper? Will we still see ads like the Xmas one on the carrier bag above featuring physical books, or will e-readers take over when we think of books in the future?
If you have any thoughts on this, I'd really love to hear them, so we can add to the discussion for Thursday. Do you prefer good old traditional paper books? Do you think there's a place for e-reading and audio books, particularly when you're travelling?