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future of books - Musea E-mail Club #515

Before I begin with The Future of Books, this in house announcement - the new issue of MUSEA #177 is now on the musea.us website. PLUS we have a link to all the LOST TAPES (note the first song on the list, Walking in the Field, does not work, never has).


What's happening to books? Is movable type a 550 year old fad that's about to end?

Here's the main stages of books and printing so far.

First there was one of a kind books.

Next came printing and mass marketing for the very rich.

Next paperbacks and pulps for the masses too.

Now, 'publishing' on computer and the net.

Computers and the internet are changing everything. Books are being supplanted by writing and reading on audio tape, or online, or downloaded to portable book devices. The future technology is not going to get worse or more expensive. It's going the other way. It's going to open up to more people at lower prices, IF not free to all!

Should book lovers be worried? Well perhaps not. The written word is an art form that stands apart from the spoken word. And it deserves to be preserved and carried forward. I see a sort of mixed future for books with mostly on line publishing, with some traditional publishing.

Net or downloaded books will be the bulk of writing. The bulk of writing is not worth wasting resources on. It takes massive amounts of paper to make a book. Then it has to be transported to stores, stored in buildings, etc. Then most of it is remaindered or returned for credit, or just trashed. So I won't miss most books if they are not in book form. These will consist of the mainstream junk that goes in and out of favor. Or it's info manuals, like phone books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, histories, newspapers, maps, science tracts, etc.

What will still be printed? Special publications that most likely will include art books, fringe tracts, and one person or small group journals.

1. Art books. Some books are works of art in themselves. Some of these are one of a kind publications, or made in limited runs like art prints. They range from handwritten, one person journals up to the most sophisticated of printed books.

2. Fringe tracts. Where there is freedom there will be new ideas that need to be expressed. They will often start small with a single person or small group. Or they are the expression of long standing fringe groups that have never and may never interest more than a small minority. We must make sure that our information world is open to all and an expression of all.

3. One person or Small Group Journals. The mainstream will have the majority of people supporting their works. Fringe groups will have their niches. but there is more. Each of us has a journal of experiences within us.. Those are important writings too. They include autobiographies, family histories, stories about friends, zines, journals, tracts, etc.

We book lovers, may loose the bulk of printing, but there should always be room between two covers for the best of writing. Let's make sure we protect and preserve that.

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