Book publishing is one of the oldest industries of the world having survived for over five centuries. Over the turn of the 21st century digital enwrapment of human lives has been so thorough that the reading habit is reported to be on decline for the first time in all these centuries. The amount of entertainment and information at our disposal has diverted attentions away from books towards visual and audio rich, brief content, created for individual appetite. Now is the challenging time for publishers and authors when the youth is immersed in social media and Netflix, when the nice smelling paperback has become a luxury, which might fade away into nostalgia some day. For the book to stay relevant the industry needs to create a product that appeals to the generation that’s attuned to video games and memes, we need innovations beyond format and medium.
While our lives are increasingly becoming digital as we are exposed to variety of digital media and our attention span has reduced, book reading is also the oldest fixation of a civilized world while digital disruption of human behaviors is merely a twenty years old phenomenon, and we can safely assume that our oldest habit is not going to die easily, because the publishing industry, whose revenue was up 6.2% in the first quarter of 2018, as per reported by American Association of Publishers, still generates more revenue than Hollywood. However, this disruption has become a permanent thing, it has changed things and will continue to do so.
Launch of Kindle in 2007 and then iPad in 2010 were the moments the popular digital book took form and got popular attention, the next few years ebooks sales rocketed and it looked like they would totally disrupt the market and gradually replace paper books like online streaming replaced dvds. Come 2019 and the inevitable plateau of sales is stretching too far for ebooks, they are nowhere closer to any disruption.
The book of the future needs to evolve further, not just in format but also in content and component, the modern storytelling needs to keep pace with the changing behavior of the consumer, and the relationship between buyer and seller needs to be open and inclusive. The book of the future needs to be interactive, moving and alive, the ebooks in last ten or so years haven’t seen much of technological evolution, this needs to happen, the storytelling should engage the reader. The book needs to be overhauled, so does the industry, publishers and the industry as a whole have to find a way to preserve the oldest fixation of mankind in the chaotic technological environment.