Will my daughter ever hold a textbook?

Junia turned 5 months old today.  She’ll be heading to school in five years or so.  

Amazon also released their Kindle Fire today.  Along with this, the price of the original Kindle is now $79, a little more than half of what I paid for one back in January.  As someone who thoroughly enjoys my Kindle, I would love to upgrade to the Kindle Fire but that probably will not happen for a few years.

With e-readers from the Kindle to the Nook to the iPad taking over the market, I have to wonder, will my daughter ever hold a textbook?  By the time she is in school, will books be relegated to museums?  Maybe not in the next five years, but what about when she enters college in 18 years?  

I doubt it.  E-readers are taking over.

Tony Jones has a timeline, a prophecy you could say, from Tech Crunch:

2013 – EBook sales surpass all other book sales, even used books. EMagazines begin cutting into paper magazine sales.
2014 – Publishers begin “subsidized” e-reader trials. Newspapers, magazines, and book publishers will attempt to create hardware lockins for their wares. They will fail.
2015 – The death of the Mom and Pops. Smaller book stores will use the real estate to sell coffee and Wi-Fi. Collectable bookstores will still exist in the margins.
2016 – Lifestyle magazines as well as most popular Conde Nast titles will go tablet-only.
2018 – The last Barnes & Noble store converts to a cafe and digital access point.
2019 – B&N and Amazon’s publishing arms – including self-pub – will dwarf all other publishing.
2019 – The great culling of the publishers. Smaller houses may survive but not many of them. The giants like Random House and Penguin will calve their smaller houses into e-only ventures. The last of the “publisher subsidized” tablet devices will falter.
2020 – Nearly every middle school to college student will have an e-reader. Textbooks will slowly disappear.
2023 – Epaper will make ereaders as thin as a few sheets of paper.
2025 – The transition is complete even in most of the developing world. The book is, at best, an artifact and at worst a nuisance. Book collections won’t disappear – hold-outs will exist and a subset of readers will still print books – but generally all publishing will exist digitally.


Goodbye books.  I am sure some people will be sad about this.  I think it is great for two reasons.  First, we moved last year and our friends had to lug box after box of our books up three flights of stairs.  Let’s just say we may have less help next time we move.  Second, it is fantastic to have Aquinas’ entire Summa, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, Dante’s Inferno and pretty much any other book with me wherever I go.

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