A Future for Reading?

For those interested in the future of the book, Amazon's (remarkably unattractive) Kindle reading device has been a subject of some fascination. The New Yorker recently ran a long essay on the experience of using the Kindle, listing its pluses and its rather numerous flaws. Further discussion can be viewed here. It seems that Kindle is unable to reproduce the sensory experience of reading a printed book, particularly regarding graphics, paper colour and readability. Future generations of such devices will overcome at least some of these shortcomings. At present, books purchased on Kindle cannot be resold, which seems a significant downside.

Will readers of the future be willing to part with the book as artefact, and use their bookshelves for other purposes? Music continues to trend in that direction, with predictions of the death of the CD becoming more credible each year. Perhaps printed books will linger on as a niche market for afficianados and collectors. At the very least, publishers will need to completely rethink the way they market, produce and distribute printed books in order to stay relevant in a digital world.