Regular Books Dead in 5 Years?

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, stirred up some controversy at a tech conference in California last week when he said that the physical book will be dead in five years. He doesn’t mean they will go away completely, just that ebooks will become the dominant form. He used the recent news that Amazon is selling more Kindle books than hardcovers to support his claim.

Man, it’s been a rough week for books. First, Barnes & Noble announced it’s thinking about putting itself up for sale, and now this. While I love ebooks and was quick to embrace their convenience, I think calling physical books dead is a little harsh. There’s something special about holding a book in your hands that an ereader will never replace.

Browsing the bookshelves at the library or bookstore is also an experience that can’t easily be replicated online. I frequently find new books at the library just by browsing the shelves and picking up books that catch my eye. It’s a different story with my Kindle, which I tend to use only to buy specific books that I already know I want.

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a place for both physical books and ebooks. Why does it have to be one or the other? I think they can peacefully coexist without killing each other.

So do you think physical books will become antiques in the next five years? Or do you think there is no way ebooks can ever replace regular books?

(Source: TechCrunch)

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  • Amy

    I definitely think physical books will be sticking around for a lot longer. Too many people prefer them to ebooks, would never pick up an ebook or ereader, or just like having both!

  • GhostWhoWalks

    I purchased my ereader two weeks ago. In that time I’ve also purchased four mass market books and zero ebooks. DTB are here to stay.

  • Doug Thorsen

    I could see physical books being dead as far as general fiction, but there are some types of books that can simply not be replicated as well in electronic format, such as “coffee table” books with the beautiful full-color photo spreads, reference books, cookbooks.   While sales might continue to decline for physical books, not everyone is going to embrace e-books and the prices of many e-books might prohibit their replacing, let’s say a used paperback you can pick up for .50 vs paying 5.00 for the same title as an e-book.