Well, at least they still made wine…

500 jears of the Gutenberg-Bible

Herr Gutenberg at work!

Disruptive technology, they call it. Think about the monks in the days of yore, scribing out religious texts using a quill and a bit of ink. Mass production of books meant 5 monks in the same room! Then along comes this Gutenberg guy with his printing press and the world changes forever. What would the monks do; their secular purpose in life usurped by wooden plates and gears slapping together, producing a days’ work in seconds?

Technology that changes a fundamental paradigm – disruptive.

So I normally would be posting a short story today, but I have been taking a grad seminar in information systems and their strategic affect in business. Half a Friday and all Saturday and Sunday. Instead of writing, I have been studying the Borders Bookstore fiasco. Which brings me to tonight’s topic:

Paper book sales are on a four year slide downward and ebook sales are skyrocketing upward thanks to the Kindle, Nook and iPad. What does this do for literary agents, publishers, bookstores and libraries?

I’ll post my study later, but you will see that agents are starting their own e-publishing sites, publishers are starting their own e-imprints (i.e. Carina Press) and bookstores have boosted their own e-book business thanks to their proprietary e-readers and the iPad which has an app to read everything under the sun.

Libraries? I didn’t get to do much research on that subject since they were not in the parameters of my paper, but suffice to say, if libraries are not thinking of how to integrate e-readers into the library experience, they will end up feeling like the monks of old when ol’ Gutenberg showed up.

No, I am not against the paper book; I prefer them, actually. Nor do I think that paper books will disappear like 8-track tapes. But the numbers are the numbers. If libraries ignore the eReader paradigm shift, they does so at their budgetary peril – heck, look at the dire straits in England.

What is your opinion? What should libraries do? I know some librarians that would love your ideas! I’ll pass them along post haste, hubba hubba honcho!

As for the monks? Well, at least they still made wine…


4 thoughts on “Well, at least they still made wine…

  1. I prefer real books myself but I do see why e-books are so popular. Our library has offered e-books for quite some time now and it seems to be very well received. Got to keep up before someone presses a button that says ‘dispense’–instant anything–even wine, and doors start closing forever. Can you imagine no libraries?

    • Exactly. That’s why I included the link to the situation in England, where there is a proposal to close hundreds of libraries. Eek!!!

  2. I have fond memories of libraries. It would be a shame to see them all fade away. I like real books but on the other hand my ipad is very convenient and easy to carry.

    • I agree on both sides of the issue. I think that eventually bookstores will carry less books, but those books that they do carry will be more keepsake quality. I am hoping that the eReader phenomena will get young people (ages 12 – 30 or so) to realize that reading isn’t such a waste of time. Libraries will need to become multi-purpose destinations where you can have a quiet reading room in one area, coffee and tea available in an open area where art can be featured, perhaps writing groups could meet there, too. The main room would have books, of course as well as a technology room where you could use PCs for homework and eReaders to access a subscription service book list. Libraries would have to be more aggressive in getting private funding since I am afraid that they are always going to be on one of the first chopping blocks, budgetwise.

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