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The End of Paper Books

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the last-folded-page dept.

Books 669

Hugh Pickens writes "Books are on their way to extinction, writes Kevin Kelly, adding that we are in a special moment when paper books are plentiful and cheap that will not last beyond the end of this century. 'It seems hard to believe now, but within a few generations, seeing an actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion.' But a prudent society keeps at least one specimen of all it makes, so Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, has decided that we should keep a copy of every book that Google and Amazon scan so that somewhere in the world there was at least one physical copy to represent the millions of digital copies. That way, if anyone ever wondered if the digital book's text had become corrupted or altered, they could refer back to the physical book that was archived somewhere safe. The books are being stored in cardboard boxes, stacked five high on a pallet wrapped in plastic, stored 40,000 strong in a shipping container, inside a metal warehouse on a dead-end industrial street near the railroad tracks in Richmond California. In this nondescript and 'nothing valuable here' building, Kahle hopes to house 10 million books — about the contents of a world-class university library. 'It still amazes me that after 20 years the only publicly available back up of the internet is the privately funded Internet Archive. The only broad archive of television and radio broadcasts is the same organization,' writes Kelly. 'They are now backing up the backups of books. Someday we'll realize the precocious wisdom of it all and Brewster Kahle will be seen as a hero.'"

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for paper's (1)

essayservices (2242884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495532)

people should write dissertation [ow.ly] on diss...

Helpful hint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495696)

If you're going to pimp an essay writing service, you should first know the difference between paper's and papers.

It's true (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495534)

I've never seen a vinyl record or and 8 track cassette.

Re:It's true (4, Insightful)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495998)

I've never seen a vinyl record or and 8 track cassette.

Really though? That sounds facetious... and improbable.

If you would have just stuck with 8-track, I wouldn't have
said anything... but it's next to impossible to exist on
this planet, not be blind, surface from the subterranean
cave you live in occasionally and NOT have seen a
record... somewhere.

Which you could say, if I've never seen one, how do I
know I saw one, if I did. And that's where I say... it's
called anecdotal knowledge. Such as the lion that is
involved in this protracted analogy. The roar and the
sheer ominousness of the creature you would see,
would lead you to believe it was a lion from supposed
knowledge that you should have at this point.

I can mail you an Elvis 8-track if you like. It's in stereo.
};-)

-AI

New Books Maybe Old Books Never (5, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495538)

A few generations until seeing a paper book is as rare as seeing a lion? Thats a bit absurd, I dont know anyone who has thrown out their book collection after getting a kindle. I have a rather extensive collection and though they mostly collect dust now I have no plans on ditching them. I can see a day where new books are no longer published but just expecting all of the old ones to just disappear is ridiculous.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495620)

Now, show me someone twenty or under with an extensive paper book collection. People will stop buying paper books and people with paper book collections will die eventually.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (5, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495656)

I would conjecture that the effect you're talking about has more to do with not really caring about books, rather than wanting them in digital format. Not that many people my age (26) or younger these days seem to desire to do extensive reading, whatever the format is. They gravitate towards other forms of entertainment, and for most their desire to learn is goal-oriented, not focused on learning for its own sake (and being well-read as part of that).

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (2)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495822)

Was there a time when the average person read so many books and "learned for its own sake?" Methinks you may be romanticizing the past.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495858)

I don't know that there was. I certainly wasn't trying to imply as much, so I apologize if you understood me to mean that. I'm simply saying that it isn't the case with my peers.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495864)

Yes, and it was about 20 years ago. Then the generation of zombies came along and decided that "intellectual" should be a Bad Word.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495896)

It has more to do with the fact that books tend to be out of date by the time they're published. Science and technology books in general are barely up to date the moment that they're published. If you're wanting to read to learn, you're probably better off reading scholarly journals.

On top of that, you can learn so much more by hanging out on a forum dedicated to your interest era then you ever could by reading.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495980)

I'm in the process of packing for a move, and having about 1500 books makes it quite a chore.

Granted, I'm something of a pack rat and rarely get rid of books once I've bought them, but I can tell you I would *love* to have all these titles on a hard drive right about now...

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (4, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36496012)

I've read hundreds of books. I used to have boxes and boxes. Then I got tired of storing them, now I have hundreds of ebooks. A few gigs of data. I'm in my thirties. Books are just data. I'd rather just see MD5 hashes or something better to verify the data. Paper can be corrupted like anything else.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495688)

Show me any under-20 something with an extensive book collection from any time period and I'll show you the exception to the rule.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495840)

But is this new? Go back 100 years. How many under-20 people had their own book collections?

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

Scorch_Mechanic (1879132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495716)

HI.

I am an American male, and I turned twenty on the twenty-sixth of May.

My personal book collection is a bunch of Weber, Laumer, and Harrison books, along with some miscaleneous science fiction. I have borrowed (and read!) the entire Foundation series from my high-school library. I've got the entire original Hardy Boy series and I've read every single one. I have almost all of Brian Jacques Redwall series as well. I've got a stack of D&D 3.5 sourcebooks and extras that I never use because I can't find a group. In the realm of comic books I have several volumes of "Essential and most of the existing english translated Battle Angel Alita. I plan to borrow the Scott Pilgrim series from my sister. She says they're good, but not like the movie (which I've seen). These are the major components of my personal library, I personally own a selection of random novels as well. In addition to this, I have access to the entire library of the family. It's not huge, but we've managed to collectively line a few walls with bookshelves, so I guess that's okay.

I *know* I own a huge number of books, compared to the rest of my age book. I'd own more if I could afford it, but I can't.

The only danger to extensive collections of books is a selection of cheap e-readers, and that hasn't happened yet.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495934)

We're getting there, you can get a new eReader for $139 easily, and I'm sure there are times when you can get them for a lot less. The real problem right now is DRM and the insistence of most publishers that books should cost the same whether they're electronic or dead tree editions. Plunking down $100+ for an ebook reader isn't so bad, but it's overpriced if the only selling point is convenience.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (2, Funny)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495916)

Now, show me someone twenty or under with an extensive paper book collection. People will stop buying paper books and people with paper book collections will die eventually.

Considering that most of them can't read beyond a 3rd grade level that's a bit unfair...

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495628)

Hiya.

You missed the words "generation" and "century". I'll keep my hardbound library for another 20 years. Then the next generation of miscreats who gets it as an estate are the ones who will ditch it, maybe ebay.

A century is a long time. However Print On Demand will be a household / mall thing by then so it could get complcated.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495962)

I don't think so. Book worms and book snobs greatly overestimate the influence that physical books have on our lives. Most people aren't so attached to the format. For most people, the thing that's going to hold them back is not wanting to rebuy books that the already own just so that they've got an electronic copy.

There are few things I've done which are as uncomfortable as trying to read a book for a prolonged period of time. It's just absolutely miserable. And the good books tend to be thick and heavy, which makes it that much more awkward to make use of.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (5, Insightful)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495680)

Sure, the people who have book collections NOW won't give them away after getting a Kindle, but what about your children or grandchildren who never have a need for a physical book collection to start with? If they can get everything they want digitally, why should they ever invest in a physical book? They *might* inherit your old collection, but they woudln't need it. At some point those books are going to end up in the trash because nobody can be bothered to store them. That's how they will become rare. Also, It isn't so much that existing books will disappear as the average person won't have them. They'll have to make a point of seeking them out, much like seeing a lion. Sure you can go to a zoo and see a lion if you want to, but most people won't see them in their day to day lives. At some point, bound books are going to be things we look at in museums. Though I thnk that'll be more than a "few" generations from now.

Older books on Kindle are flawed (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495754)

Older books (as in pre-word processor) on Kindle (not singling out Amazon, I'm sure iBooks and other digital stores share the same problems) are flawed. I've read a bunch of reviews of older books and there are common complaints regarding frequent typos from OCR. I am far more comfortable purchasing things written in more recent times in a digital format. That said, I confess an act of defiance in that I will not purchase the digital version unless it costs less so I still occasionally purchase paper.

Re:Older books on Kindle are flawed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495878)

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495882)

It is absurd. In a few generations technology will crash down probably. We can't sustain this rate of chip production forever, especially not with this idea that tech is disposable and meant to be thrown away before the year is out. In a few generations people will wise up and realize books made of paper are actually a good idea.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495894)

And how many people (in the privileged west) haven't seen a lion?

Maybe not in the wild, but come on, everyone's been to a zoo. Seeing a lion is not a rare event.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

rbphilip (530254) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495904)

I find a new home elsewhere for every paper book that I replace with a digital copy. Getting rid of unneeded "stuff" makes life so much better!

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495912)

Hence the phrase "a few generations"....you'll be dead and your heirs or theirs will eventually dispose of the decaying mess that was once your book collection.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495932)

The comment about your collection collecting dust should be offer a hint as to its future. If it's not a priority, it will be one of the first things to go when you need the space, are moving, etc..

That being said, I don't think that books are going to die. I do anticipate the types of book that we see in print will change dramatically. The stuff that people come back to again and again will probably remain in print. The stuff that they read once then toss in the closet will probably be the domain of the ereader.

Re:New Books Maybe Old Books Never (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495968)

A few generations until seeing a paper book is as rare as seeing a lion? Thats a bit absurd, I dont know anyone who has thrown out their book collection after getting a kindle. I have a rather extensive collection and though they mostly collect dust now I have no plans on ditching them. I can see a day where new books are no longer published but just expecting all of the old ones to just disappear is ridiculous.

Yes and no dude... you forget one thing... moving!

I love and covet my bound-paper collection... I even
have an authentic ENCYCLOPEDIA set. (3, but who's
counting).

During a move... my book collection takes roughly
one hour of labor with 2 people to move (from & to).
Yeah, I move enough and I'm anal enough to calculate
that fact. That makes it $16 labor bucks a move...
which isn't expensive it is a non-zero expense and
the time is "expensive" in a move and . Especially
when you live in the desert. And the space they take
up since they need to be in a temperature/humidity
controlled area is bad as well.

So, here's the scenario... I donate/sell/giveaway all
my books. They have thus "disappeared" from my
possession. At some point, whoever received them,
does the same thing. Eventually they reach an area
or person that doesn't want to take the time to move
them or store them properly and disposes of them
ala Fahrenheit 451 (or a landfill, whichever)... those
books have then disappeared, completely.

It's NOT ridiculous to expect them to disappear completely.
It IS ridiculous to expect them NOT to... because on the
timeline we all live on, EVERYTHING will cease to exist
at some point. Believing in the contrary is insane.

-AI

digital book needs to be screen reader open (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495544)

digital book needs to be screen reader open and not locked down.

any ways text books need to die fast.

Re:digital book needs to be screen reader open (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495566)

Text books will absolutely die fast. They'll die each semester, a couple weeks after the end.

You'll still pay the new price though.

Re:digital book needs to be screen reader open (3, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495578)

Textbooks are as good as dead, but their evil lives on in WebAssign [webassign.net] and other grade-based extortion rackets that makes the old textbook scam look charitable.

"Education" and its associated businesses are built upon the concept of captive audiences and extortion. The education industry is what needs to die.

Re:digital book needs to be screen reader open (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495728)

Education Industry is sponsored by politicians with pet projects designed to make politicians look good while skimming money from the top down till what little trickles into a classroom gets used.Want to fix education, get it out of national and state politics where it doesn't belong., and bring it back local.

We are beyond Industrial now, in to the "information" age, why do we have a educational system that looks like a factory?

Re:digital book needs to be screen reader open (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495816)

oww..!!! maybe we'll write dissertation [bit.ly] or essays with digital pens.!?

Re:digital book needs to be screen reader open (3, Interesting)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495744)

Sadly, I don't think the death of the printed text book is going to save students any money. Publishers are just going to hide content behind a paid service rather than publishing an ebook you can easily pirate. Hell, they might even give the ebook away but require that you pay $100 for the online portion of the course materials. And your instructor will require you to sign up and pay for this service. Trust me, they will find a way to gouge students.

A publisher's dream come true. (5, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495552)

Just think. With the death of paper books and the move to only digital copies (most of which will be slathered in DRM) you can eliminate the concept of resale, ensure that old editions of books become unusable, and revise history on the fly. Region lockouts, EULAs, acitvations and time limits. Then they can layer even more restrictions on top and enforce them via more bad pro-corporation, anti-citizen laws.

Sure seems like we're already on this road. All they need to do is require government licensing for access to a compiler...

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495650)

The government won't have to step in. People are stupid and short sighted enough to do it to themselves. It's already impossible to rent movies and buy music and in some instances, buy books in most places in the US.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

heypete (60671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495814)

It's already impossible to rent movies and buy music and in some instances, buy books in most places in the US.

Last time I checked, the US Postal Service still delivers to every address in the US. Netflix, among others, delivers movies (on DVD or Blu-Ray) by mail.

Amazon, while offering 256kbps DRM-free MP3 downloads, also still sells music CDs and books. There are plenty of examples of other such vendors.

It may come to pass that there isn't a general market brick-and-mortar shop for books or music in some areas, particularly smaller towns, but what's wrong with ordering things for delivery?

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (2)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495920)

What's wrong with it?

If I want to rent a movie tonight, I can't. Impossible. No video rental stores because everybody used Netflix. If I want to get opinions of people who work in the video store or my neighbors, I can't. Oh yeah, and all of that money leaves my community, too.

MP3 downloads aren't the same as a CD Audio CD. Not even close if you have an actual stereo system. Oh yeah, and all of that money leaves my community, too.

Browsing book stores is impossible since there often aren't any. Going to book signings or other such events are impossible. Oh yeah, and all of that money leaves my community, too.

If you're happy sitting in front of your computer mindlessly consuming, sending your money out of your community to god knows who, and interacting with no actual humans in the process, then good for you. I feel that my life has been significantly negatively impacted by the bad decisions of peope interested in nothing more than their own wallets.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495662)

Of course, everyone was making the same predictions about downloadable music not so long ago.

Give it a few years; once tablets are as ubiquitous as iPods, companies have been pummeled with lawsuits after shutting down eBook DRM servers, and a major retailer is threatening to take over the entire market, publishers will start marketing "eBooks Plus" or somesuch.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495860)

Some of us take our book-reading seriously enough to enjoy something high-contrast enough to be read comfortably in direct sunlight, while sitting in a hot tub being accompanied with a beer or cocktail. You can drop a $10 or even a $20-dollar book in the bathtub or Jacuzzi and easily replace it, or even dry it out and re-use it, if you're cheap and don't mind wavy pages.

Try dropping a Kindle or other "ubiquitous tablet" in a pool or hot tub, or even leaving it in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. See what that does to it and its warranty. Electronic gadgets don't even smell nearly as good as an old book does. A good, aged book smells as delicious as 15 year-old Scotch.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36496008)

Just because two predictions sound similar, doesn't mean their outcomes will be the same. I would suggest that book publishers make the record industry look almost NICE in comparison. I mean, I've heard tales of publishing houses and their staff that are so malevolent that that kook David Icke should probably be using them as evidence that there really is a race of evil, cold-blooded lizard people hiding among us, subjugating us, and sometimes eating us.
  "Sssaless are down yet again, Misster Foley. Looksss like no-one will hear from you again....."

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495668)

Just think. With the death of paper books and the move to only digital copies (most of which will be slathered in DRM) you can eliminate the concept of resale, ensure that old editions of books become unusable, and revise history on the fly. Region lockouts, EULAs, acitvations and time limits.

Of course that would be ignoring the fact that the same thing has happened with music and the largest distributors - Amazon and iTunes - provide most of it DRM-free.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495898)

Music, and music only. Video and ebooks however continue to be wrapped in layers of DRM and little forward motion to push DRM out of those fields seems to be underway.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495946)

You can buy crap copies DRM free. It's pretty tough to find lossless, DRM-free music these days (ie: CD's).

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495706)

Oooh, and ADVERTS! You can insert adverts right into the text, kind of like product placement in movies only even more obnoxious. I can't wait!

The Right to Read (4, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495788)

This.

Richard Stallman's famous parable about the Right to Read, and what will happen if intellectual monopoly laws continue to grow:

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495826)

Repeat after me: there must be a free (as in speech) books movement. There must be a free (as in speech) books movement...

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495984)

There is, it's called the Creative Commons, and there's a bunch of works that are available there. It's rather more complicated than free software as one book isn't necessarily fungible for another, especially outside the realm of text books and other works of non-fiction.

Re:A publisher's dream come true. (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36496018)

Meh, DRM will always be subvertable. I do fear a world where sharing and reselling legitimately obtained books is a crime, but I don't think DRM will stop it from happening. At some point they're going to settle on some DRM standard, but like DVD's CSS, there will be a fairly straight forward way to get around it even if it is technically illegal. No matter how the corporations try to stop it, copying information just gets easier and easier. That's just a historical fact. Encryption, legal threats, and DRM have all failed to put any real dent in the free sharing of information. The only real way to combat this is to make the legitimate sources more convenient than the illegitimate sources. For example, I have no moral problem downloading movies and TV shows via bittorrent, but I will pay for a service that is more convenient, like Netflix. I'd much rather pay $8 per month to stream movies to my PS3 than muck with torrents and storing the files. The only reason I do still torrent content is because Netflix doesn't have everything I want. Or the Netflix version is not high enough quality. Same with games. Sometimes buying something on Steam is just more convenient than downloading the torrent and and messing with cracks.

Good thing... (5, Insightful)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495562)

Since after the EMP bombs all go off, no one's eReaders are gonna be working all that well anymore.

Doesn't *anyone* read science fiction anymore?

You people just aren't *near* paranoid enough.

Re:Good thing... (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495612)

After the EMP bombs all go off, people will be searching for water, food, shelter, and weapons. They won't be searching for chunks of dead trees.

Re:Good thing... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495652)

After the EMP bombs all go off, people will be searching for water, food, shelter, and weapons. They won't be searching for chunks of dead trees.

Nonsense. In the winter it gets cold around here - lots of paper could be handy.

Re:Good thing... (4, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495664)

I know I'd be really glad for my chunks of dead trees that have information about what plants are safe to eat, which ones are good for medicine, and so forth.

Granted, there will be an immediate scramble for survival, and I have no illusions that I'm in a good position to survive that, but in the long term there are lots of books that would be damn nice to have if you're lucky enough to survive.

Re:Good thing... (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495950)

EMP bombs? What are you talking about? Doesn't anyone read the Congressional Reports on these things?

A single 10kiloton bomb detonating at 10miles or so above the NorthEast seaboard or so will generate sufficient pulse to take out most electrical infrastructure from Maine to Florida to Chicago or so.

Four or five weeks later, after the die-out of the cities is over, people with enough intelligence to read the books to learn to produce their own food (currently, less than half of the US population) will likely have a distinct advantage.

Re:Good thing... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495954)

"...people will be searching for water, food, shelter, and weapons. They won't be searching for chunks of dead trees."

Books about building weapons, shelters, find water and grow food will be priceless then.

Re:Good thing... (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495874)

/me looks at eReader.

My nearest eReader is five feet away from any connected power cord, which is the primary means of propagation for EMP, right?

At 64GB, that's... at least 40K books in graphical format, more if it were text or other highly compressible format, or such?

Whereas, the nearest university library (exactly 2.5 blocks away) is just chuck-full of stuff that's going to go boom during an EMP event in the US, and then catch fire... I'm betting on my eReader.

Re:Good thing... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495930)

You people just aren't *near* paranoid enough.

You only need to be right about it once for it all to pay off.

Bad Location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495574)

"Inside a metal warehouse on a dead-end industrial street near the railroad tracks in Richmond California. In this nondescript and 'nothing valuable here' building"

Not anymore. I'm sure someone will go looking for it just because. Also, California is quite prone to earthquakes. I'm sure they could have found a safer location.

Deterioration? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495580)

Neat idea, but paper and ink don't last forever. If you're going to save physical books for posterity, you need to use materials which will last millennia.

Re:Deterioration? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495994)

They don't last forever, but they do last a long time. I suppose if you really want them to last, you should bang them out of sheets of aluminum. Or lead, if you use materials like that, they'll easily last a couple millenia, assuming nothing squashes them. Even then they'd have to be pretty smashed in order to be completely illegible. The bigger issue would be finding somebody to actually read them.

Another End of Books Prediction (4, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495600)

I guess its our doom to be treated to an annual "end of books" prediction, alongside "the year of linux on the desktop", "the year desktops go away and everyone gets an ipad", "the year ipads go away and everyone gets a specific e-device for every task they used desktops for in ancient times", etc. At least this prediction has the tact to place itself out "a few generations", alongside flying cars and the end of disease.

Re:Another End of Books Prediction (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495880)

Amen sir! If I had mod points I would mod you up.

They said this about vinyl, too. (1)

jaskelling (1927116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495614)

And that was only around for about a century or so - and yet I can still go to the store and buy it. Books have been around for almost EIGHT centuries. And not to mention the fact that this digital copy thing is almost entirely constrained to a limited set of first world countries where the wealth and infrastructure exists for this type of thing. Regardless of how many doom and gloom stories like this pop up to get clicks and start fights in the comments, paper books aren't going anywhere for a hell of a long time yet.

Re:They said this about vinyl, too. (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495634)

Books have been around for almost EIGHT centuries

Not that I disagree with the sentiment, but books have been around for longer than that, at least if you count the codex:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex [wikipedia.org]

Re:They said this about vinyl, too. (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495836)

Books have been around for almost EIGHT centuries.

Sorry man... but WOW... where did YOU go to school? lol

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus [wikipedia.org]
http://www.onlinedegree.net/the-10-oldest-books-known-to-man/ [onlinedegree.net]

-AI

Re:They said this about vinyl, too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495906)

By book he probably means codex. Sill a little short but about right.

Wikipedia will be deleted as not notable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495616)

Meepsheep here, aka JarlaxleAretemis, Willy on Wheels and Wik/Gzornenplatz

Hersfold and Mentifisto are getting fucked up the ass my by horns right now, while Muzemike is sucking my sheep penis.

Library of Congress (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495618)

Is this what the Library of Congress is supposed to be?

Re:Library of Congress (3, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495802)

Is this what the Library of Congress is supposed to be?

No, the LoC is supposed to be a unit of measure for the amount of information.

Yet another tech prediction... (5, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495626)

...like the one that said we'd have jet packs, flying cars, and Linux on the desktop in the year 2000.

Sorry, dude. Keep your prognostication within five, ten years, and you have a discussion on your hands. Stretch it out to the point where most people reading right now will be dead, and you're writing a bit of fluff that, by design, can't be refuted or argued with.

Re:Yet another tech prediction... like... (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495970)

... and like the one that said microprocessor capacity would double every 1.5 years or so?

Who said that? He must have been a real loser! Tech morons and their predictions!

I'm skeptical. (2)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495646)

The slashdot summary says: "[...]within a few generations, seeing a actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion." And how do we know this? Because Kevin Kelly says so on his blog. What evidence does Kevin Kelly give that billions of people worldwide are going to throw all their paper books in a dumpster? None.

Brester Kahle says: "A reason to preserve the physical book that has been digitized is that it is the authentic and original version that can be used as a reference in the future. If there is ever a controversy about the digital version, the original can be examined. A seed bank such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is seen as an authoritative and safe version of crops we are growing. Saving physical copies of digitized books might at least be seen in a similar light as an authoritative and safe copy that may be called upon in the future." This is not a great analogy. If you want to be able to grow a plant of a certain species, currently the only way to do it is to have a seed (or a cutting or something, but they don't tend to keep as well). But there are easier, more secure ways to verify that a book hasn't been altered. To verify that all the books in Project Gutenberg have been maintained in an unaltered state, all I need is a computer file listing a hash function computed on each of the books. This is cheap to carry out, and it's very secure. I can print the hash-function file on a piece of paper and hide it somewhere, and no hypothetical evil government can make the piece of paper go away if they don't know I have it. There is no single point of failure, because any number of people can store the hash function. Kahle's cache of paper books is a single point of failure. It can be destroyed in a fire or earthquake, in case of a revolution, etc.

A better justification for maintaining caches of paper books is that in case civilization falls apart, they'll still be readable.

Archival deposit, anybody? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495674)

Isn't this why various countries have archival deposit legislation? My wife has deposited copies of each of her books at both the National Library of Australia and the State Library of Victoria.

Richmond, CA (1)

reg (5428) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495692)

Funnily enough, Richmond is where the University of California keeps one of their archives of books [google.com] ...

It'll be a sad day (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495698)

I've got books that are over a 100 years old and some have books hundreds of years old. Most of my files over ten years old are hard to access. Text files that are over 20 years old are very hard to read. Most of them are microsoft files and even Word can't read them. What are the odds of a file created toady being readable in a 100 years? There's this fantasy that the internet itself is perpetual but it may not exist in a hundred years. Files are easily lost, much easier than a book. One hard drive crash can wipe out all your books. If no one maintains a given book file it will cease to exist and no one will find it in a box in some one's attic 200 years from now. People will say maybe some one will burn a CD or DVD but few seem to realize those have a limited life. Few if any will be readable in a 100 years. Hard drives? I'm thrilled when they last 3 years let alone a 100. For digital books to survive they have to constantly have their files not only constantly backed up but the format updated. If eBooks take over and dead tree books vanish most of the books you know today will cease to exist. Like most things people will keep what is new and trendy and a frightening amount of human knowledge will pass. The end of paper books may be a bigger disaster than the loss of the library of Alexandria.

Re:It'll be a sad day (1, Interesting)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495806)

. One hard drive crash can wipe out all your books.

One fire can wipe out all your books. And they provide pretty good fuel for the fire too.

A little harder to catch that USB drive on fire.

Can you fit those 100's of books into one firesafe?

Why would you have a flammable object not protected by a firesafe?

That's almost like having $500,000 in BC laying around in a file on your computer.

Wait... what?

-AI

"Print is dead" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495722)

"Print is dead" - Dr. Egon Spengler - Ghostbusters. 1984. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/

Rarer still (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495726)

Has anyone ever seen a lion reading a book?

That's especially rare!

That isn't going to work... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495738)

I'm no librarian, but books do decay over time. Unless these books are being printed on special (and expensive) 100% acid-free paper, are never touched by human hands, and are stored in a climate-controlled, low-oxygen environment, these books won't last forever.

Having said that, I'm not even sure if this is a worthy endeavor. Real books will probably always exist, although they may simply become luxury items.

How long does he think those books will last? (2)

beamdriver (554241) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495746)

Modern books aren't designed to last hundreds of years. Within decades, most of that archive will begin deteriorating. The inks will fade. The pages will turn to dust.

Where's the value in that?

My Shed (1)

Apoptosis66 (572145) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495752)

I have been keeping a backup of all stone tablets in my shed for years. Soon to be free on craigslist now that my archive mechanism is out of date.

I see lions in a zoo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495758)

I see lions at a place specializes in the care of animals... it is called a zoo?

Does this mean I have to go to a place which specializes in the care of reading and reference material to see a book? I wonder what they might be called? A library?

The Books Won't Last... (1)

Wook Man (79498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495760)

Just buying a hardback or paperback and sticking it in a warehouse isn't going to do it. If they aren't cloth-based or special archival paper they will have deteriorated to dust long before the end of this century, no matter what the storage environment is.

I call shenanigans (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495852)

they will have deteriorated to dust long before the end of this century

I keep seeing this claim on this thread. I'm old enough to have some books around that are 30 years old that I got as a kid. They show no apparent signs of deterioration. I have some of my father's books from the 50's and only the cheapest of those (some pocket-sized cartoon paperbacks) show any signs of pages yellowing or becoming brittle. The regular books are all just fine. I have some books of my grandfather's, mass-market subscription "American Classics", cheap leather bindings, made from 1908-1912 that are similarly fine to read (they're up for sale if you want them).

None of these books have been stored anywhere but typical household bookshelves and cardboard boxes in attics. At my folks' place there's a library full of these, none turning to dust.

Rubbish (0)

marc_the_kiwi (1680284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495770)

What absolute rubbish. Books are here to stay. Period.

Good, it's about time... (0)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495776)

Digital technology has been around long enough
that we should have stopped killing trees A LONG
TIME AGO!

This bullshit of clear cutting damn rainforests to
supply the world with paper is absolutely insane.
Of course this probably goes along the lines of
petroleum products, first world countries will be
able to give it up easier than third world areas.

Trees are part of our air scrubbers... it's like...
hmm we need a car analogy... it's like, using
a car for a paperweight. I would MUCH rather
leave the trees to do their jobs (not to mention
providing an area for tens of thousands of the
world's species to live) than to have a "piece
of paper" handy.

-AI

Damn! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495778)

we are in a special moment when paper books are plentiful and cheap [...] but within a few generations, seeing a actual paper book will be as rare for most people as seeing an actual lion

Ah, yes, I remember when lions were cheap and plentiful and virtually everyone saw at least a dozen of them on a daily basis. If only I had stocked up on lions back when I had the chance... :-(

You can actually own paper books (4, Interesting)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495792)

When you buy a book you own it and can re-read it as many times as you want. You can let your friends and family borrow it to read, or can even give it to someone else as a gift.

I hate to see books follow down the path that is being pushed for other media where you don't actually own a copy of the media but you simply rent or license it.

If a paper book ends up on some ban list it doesn't get revoked. Who needs the firemen from Fahrenheit 451 when you can simple push a button and automatically remove a copy of an e-book off of all digital reader devices.

The End of Libraries (2)

JustinDoesWork (2285416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495812)

This prediction has many ramifications, one of the biggest is the end of physical libraries. The end of brick and mortar libraries would be a huge shift for the public that rely on the services they provide besides the books, internet access, research help, employment help, technology learning just to start.

no worries (1)

sanzibar (2043920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495828)

the lobbyist will ensure textbooks live well past their prime and libraries will continue to serve those without.

Uhm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495876)

Yes paper books will disappear once...
1. There is a standard for ebooks that everyone can agree to. (i.e. not the epub/mobi/PDF/Custom Apps, other stuff format wars we have now).
2. The DRM is gone and/or and things like resale are easily allowed with ebooks.
3. ALL books are available as standard eBooks conforming to the conditions above.
4. eBook readers are cheap enough that basically everyone has them.
5. The price of eBooks drops to represent their approximately $0 per unit production cost.

Since none of those things are likely to come true any time soon, It will be a while yet.
Think about it, I could buy my last few text-books as electronic goods, but they weren't even DRMed eBooks, in most cases they needed a special App to read them. That means they're limited to the current version of iOS and/or Windows. They were also more than half the price of the paper books, and time limited to a few months. (With of course no provision to resell).
Why would I pay like $90 for a book I can't resell or even keep, when I can pay $120 for a book that I can resell for $80 in a few months? (i.e. a net price of $40) - or keep for reference? Right, I wouldn't. The only reason would be so I could read it on my computer and/or iPad. It just so happens I have a scanner, so I bought the paper version, and now I have both a paper version AND a nice PDF version.

For a lot of books like accounting, etc. I do want to hang on to them for reference. Even if I don't want to keep or sell them, giving them to friends for free is a nice thing to be able to do. At the end of the day, I could give a shit whether it's a paper copy, or an eBook on my iPad. Most of the people who are are hipsters, and the eBook will cease to be "hip" as soon as it starts to be common.

As for #3: Another thing you might not notice is that not all books are even available as eBooks in any form. I am an SAP consultant, and I thought it would be super convenient to have my reference books all as PDFs, but they are not available (legally) in PDF or any other ebook form. This is true of quite a lot of books. The ones that seem to be available in eBook format are usually the lowest common denominator cheap fiction books, that, quite frankly, nobody would miss.

Keeping one copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495888)

Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, has decided that we should keep a copy of every book that Google and Amazon scan so that somewhere in the world there was at least one physical copy to represent the millions of digital copies

Presumably he's never heard of National Libraries then. Nice of him to come up with this idea, decades, if not centuries after the rest of the world.

Authentication signature (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495908)

Currently, dead trees are be used as a poor-man's (or, more accurately, 20th-century man's) cryptographic signature to the authenticity of electronic books. If it exists in paper, then it can be forensically examined to determine if it is a forgery (the first being the sniff test -- are the pages yellowed and does it smell moldy?). How long can this last? How long will it be until we have the TNG replicator of books that can produce an authentic-looking but slightly altered version of a book on demand? Probably not long enough to make a physical archive worthwhile.

Someone needs to invent a cryptographic scheme that provides a digital signature anchored in time -- one that is impossible to produce at a future date. It seems impossible, of course, but then both public key encryption and anonymous digital cash (the latter originally invented by David Chaum but now manifested in BitCoin) are counterintuitive yet both exist.

Was seeing lions ever common? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495936)

I don't mean to get off track here but I'm not sure the analogy fits.

At any stage in the history of man, was seeing lions a common occurrence?

Didn't lions only at most ever range over select parts of Africa and Asia?

Maybe I'm being picky, the summary reads to me like lions used to be lying around the sofa like my kid's books now are...

Paper books will thrive into the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36495942)

This is just rubbish!

Prediction: Paper books will be around as long as there are humans.

Other forms of books will also proliferate but nothing approaches the experience of reading a book made of paper. The touch, the smell, the feel of pages flipping through your fingers. Books engage our senses and the imaginary worlds they transport us to are identified with the physical sensations we experience as we journey to them.

Electronic books will have a surge, but people will return to paper books as they realise the subtle sense of loss they experience in using electronic media to read.

I'll never own an e-reader (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495958)

Sorry, I have no interest in reading a book on a LCD.

If books go strictly to the e-format, I'll just find the online copy (not paying for it) and print it myself.

Course, I don't mind if someone prints it for me - I'll even pay for the book then. I have over 7,000 books. I'm not the only one out there with a decent sized library.

books for coffee (1)

defective_warthog (776271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36495972)

I've got three Louis LaMour paperbacks can I get a cup of coffee?

"The Holmes-Ginsbook Device" (1)

sinan (10073) | more than 3 years ago | (#36496022)

in Isaac Asimovs future history, it is predicted that the book will be reinvented as "The Holmes-Ginsbook Device" and then be shortened to book , by deleting the Holmes-Gins part. One wonders how Ginsbook ever got his/her name...

Internet backup?? (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36496024)

'It still amazes me that after 20 years the only publicly available back up of the internet is the privately funded Internet Archive."

That's just plain ignorant... I don't think it would
be feasible to try to chase 'the end of the internet'.

I'm sure the scale of what is added to the internet
outpaces the ability to mirror it. Thus, without a
curve-breaking introduction of non-volatile storage,
I don't think a whole mirror will ever be achieved.
[Short of search engines... who claim that they
can't reach the deep/dark net]

Which is another point. Who will ever be able to
claim they have mirrored the entire internet... if
you don't have access to the deepest parts, you
don't have a true mirror.

-AI

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