In a very thought-provoking essay, David Meerman Scott at WebInkNow quotes Zak Nelson’s thoughts about how book design needs to change to reflect an emerging visual and textual literacy driven by the hours upon hours we all spend online. To Nelson, this equates to a more comic book-like book design.
Nelson is talking about print books, yet a lot of action these days is around e-books. Today, Amazon.com is expected to introduce a new version of its sellout Kindle, one that will likely improve on its predecessor and lower the price. In addition, Amazon has revealed it will begin offering Kindle books on cellphones, the better to compete with the iPhone’s emerging book platform.
Mike Elgan at Computerworld thinks the e-book is about to catch fire. He identifies six forces that will drive rapid adoption in the very near-term:
- The economy — e-books are cheaper
- The environment — e-books are “greener”
- The self-publishing revolution — “The book publishing industry is one of the most backward, musty, obsolete businesses in our economy”
- Effective e-book marketing — social media, contextual advertising, etc.
- The rise of books written as e-books — the medium will celebrate creativity, shorter titles, more frequent updates, and other format innovations
- The demise of newspapers — blogs on dead trees no longer make sense
These may not be the exact trends (I’d add something about children with overburdened backpacks who would welcome a thin, electronic homework reading device), but there are plenty of forces lining up to change the book — both aesthetically and functionally.
“Books will never go away.” True! Horses have not gone away either.
“Books have advantages over e-books that will never be overcome.” True! Horses can travel over rough terrain that no car can navigate. Paved roads don’t go everywhere, nor should they.
“Books provide sensory/sentimental/sensual experiences that e-books can’t match.” True! Cars just can’t match the experience of caring for and riding a horse: the smells, the textures, the sensations, the companionship with another living being.
Lather, rinse, repeat. Did you ride a horse to work today? I didn’t.
Neither did I.