While the humble book has been around in its present form for a long time, there are reasons to believe technology is about to bring major changes to the whole book experience. In the relatively near future, technology may make printing books on dead trees look as dated as carving words into stone.
Books and technology until now
Paper books have held up pretty well against technology until now. While inventions like TV, radio, videos and computer games have reduced the time people devote to reading, there still is no replacement for the type of experience the paper book offers. However, this is finally changing.
The most obvious challenge to the paper book is the e-book reader. They offer instant access, lower costs, the ability to carry thousands of books at once, constant updates and other interactive features such as built in dictionaries that traditional books cannot.
Until now, costs, reluctance to change, the ability to access any page instantly and the like have kept book readers from mass appeal. However, with costs rapidly dropping and every new generation of book readers offering more functionality, they increasingly offer everything a paper book does and more.
There are many situations where listening to rather than reading a book is more practical. Now that most people have the ability to listen to books on their phones and many other devices, it is likely that audio books will grow in popularity and reduce the number of paper books read. The fact that book readers can convert text to audio will also increase the popularity of listing to books.
With things like online cookbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias and the like, there is less need to buy paper books. As computer screens become more portable and move into places like kitchens, this trend will accelerate.
Other learning devices
Not long ago, the only way to study something like a language was to buy a book. Now, computer programs and software applications on devices like iPhones make it possible to study things in ways that do not require paper. Often, these methods of studying are far more engaging too. These types of applications will decrease the need for both paper and electronic books.
Online reading and publishing
People increasing go online to get information they would have bought books for in the past. Furthermore, the internet allows people who would have never tried to publish things before to create digital content that can be sold online. This trend will accelerate as its acceptance grows and the ways in which people can read this content improves with technology.