Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

New group: “Books in 2025—The Future of the Book World”

I’ve started a new discussion group LibraryThing Group, Books in 2025.

The group aims to centralize and restart a site-wide conversation about the future of books and reading. It’s a conversation that’s been going on for years here and there on Talk, especially Book talk and the librarians group, in comments to my Thingology posts about ebooks and my Twitter stream. It needs it’s own group. It will also be refreshing to hear more from LibraryThing members–not technologists or industry people. After all, who better to discuss the future of books than the people who love them most?

Anything about the future of books is welcome, but the focus will be on how ebooks and social reading are and will change things, with 15 years as a proposed timeframe:

  • How will ebooks change reading? Has it changed your reading?
  • How fast will ebooks rise, and how high will they go? Is the paper book dead?
  • Where is social reading going? What’s core and what’s fad?
  • Will sites like LibraryThing continue to exist, or will ereaders leverage their advantages to make book discussion a platform-dependent activity?
  • Will libraries contract or prosper in an ebook world? What can they do to make sure things turn out right?
  • How will ebooks change the world for publishers?
  • Will writers see increased opportunities–or be decimated by piracy? How will ebooks change literature?
  • Are physical bookstores doomed?
  • What about the rest of the book world–small and informal libraries, agents, rare books, small presses, book reviewers, etc.?
  • Amazon, B&N, Apple… How many will win, and how will they evolve?

Anyone can post, and start a topic. But we’re going to keep this a LibraryThing project. We’ll be starting some topics ourselves, and bringing in authors and other book people to discuss what they know, and where they think things are going.

So, come check out the group “Books in 2025,” and participate in a first topic, “Welcome to this group / Books in 2025?

Group image by Javier Candeira, released under CC-Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (see on Flickr).

Labels: books, bookstores, ebooks, libraries


  1. dbettenson says:

    I believe that ebooks have already changed the way a lot of people read – I know my mother-in law uses her ebook reader all the time.
    I still prefer a book I can hold in my hands – most of the time. When I travel, or when I was in hospital,the ebook reader was great!
    However, I believe that children’s books will always be popular in book versions. I have tried to read a few children’s ebooks to my grandchildren – and it was extremely hard to hold their attention. They just want to play with computer keys!!!
    I think books themselves will always be popular – it is so grand to hold a new book in my hands, and settle in to read it.
    As well, ebooks are harder to read when you are prone to migraine headaches.

  2. Rina says:

    I have to say I am not a fan of ebooks. I think one day they will definitely take the place of paper books, which will be a sad day indeed. We’ve already made several moves to a completely techno world. Remember when we used to write with a paper and pen? Or when you went to the library and checked out your books with a librarian instead of a machine? I do, and though I do not regret losing the latter, I do miss the personal touch trips to the library used to be. When paper books do become obsolete, I will greatly miss the excitement of walking into a bookstore, the euphoria of running my hands over several books looking for just the right one, and just the simple smell of them. Until that day, though, I will continue to purchase my paper books and enjoy them at my leisure.

    P.S. Ebooks are bloody hard to read to boot. They sorta make my eyes swim….lol.

  3. Charity says:

    Book becoming obsolete? Really? Well, I for one do not see that in the future…the world is just not ready for that sort of things. Granted, e-readers and such are becoming more popular by the day, but it will never replace a physical book. I have talked to random people and they all say they’d rather have a physical book any day. This whole books becoming obsolete thing is just like the libraries becoming obsolete thing, which is not going to happen. I’ve run into this subject a couple of times while enrolled in Information and Library Services degree at school.

    As far as bookstores like B&N, I heard a rumor that they were going out of business, but I haven’t seen any definite physical evidence of that. Hope this post has been informative for you all.

  4. TBirdsMomma says:

    The other day, my brother made the lofty prediction that “ten years from now there will be no books”… My brother is not a big reader, but he is big into tech stuff. The three women to whom he made this pronouncement are all big book readers. We all agreed it will take decades longer than that, if it ever even happens at all.

    The topic had come up because our mom (one of the aforementioned three) had brought along her new Kindle thingy. She likes it, but continues to use the public library regularly (you can’t beat free). I started into the electronic version of a very popular novel, but after three days of persisting, found myself lacking enthusiasm. I don’t think it had anything to do with a sentimental longing for a smelly paper book 🙂 I like the feel and look of the ebookreader. It was more due to the lack of practicality. I like to flip back a couple pages or skim even further back to check details. I also don’t like the idea of paying for every book I read (I am a total library slut).
    I think the technology will have to evolve in a variety of ways before these things really become universal. They will have to be fast, with touch-screens and scrolling pages, like the iPod Touch and iPhones. They will also have to be library friendly. Imagine the local library being online… Just download a book… it will spontaneously combust after three weeks unless you renew!

  5. Walter Clark says:

    I may think unlike what happened with LP records,cassette tapes, VCRs, or CDs years ago, books may end up suffering that same fate, because of popularity of eBooks, or books on the internet, by 2020, 2025, or 2030, kiss books goodbye, and around that time frame they will or may become obsolete, so will bookstores themselves. The paper that books are made from, may or will become obsolete, and it is too costly to use for producing books, (making costs of books go way too high),and cut down on the environment. Environmental Officers from each state, may or should put a crackdown on paper mills where books would be produced, and fine employees from these paper mills, and then shutting them down to help protect the environment, and eliminating cutting down on trees.