Someone, somewhere, will figure out a way to get the content from printed page to digital content quickly and easily (Think CDs to MP3s). Scanners will get cheaper and better, and that will have unintended consequences (Think CDRs and CD burners for your computer). Someone else will figure out a way to share the stuff (Think Napster), or sharing will piggy-back on the existing sharing systems. First the nerds, then the semi-nerds (like me) will catch on and start reading these books on their computers, not minding that it’s a little less convenient than reading a physical book. Some forward-thinking entrepreneur (Think Steve Jobs) will suddenly see an opportunity and make an e-reader that doesn’t suck and that will become a must-have thing.
By then it’ll be too late and the big publishers will put together a bunch of half-ass attempts (Think the new fee-based Napster) to put the genie back in the bottle, while holding on like grim death to their not so suddenly outdated business model, and will rot from within.
I’ve teeter-tottered between enthusiastic dorkwad embracing of the idea that I could read my books on A Device, or maybe even a phone (a Google Phone (read: iPhone challenger) is in the works, apparently, and may retail for $100) and coming to my senses: come on, there’s no way it could ever be as good as holding the book. This article, though, struck a little fear: what if people like myself eventually are overrun by new media, as younger, more device-embracing consumers – the holders of the purse-strings – demand the e-book, either before or after the likely inevitable design of "the iPod of eBooks"? What if I become the guy who covets books, cursing out the youngsters, like the guy who will only listen to Johnny Hartman on vinyl? (Sadly, in this equation, I’m the digital music guy, which only deepens my existential guilt over the whole matter.) And then, if there are e-books galore, won’t there be piracy? So: a world where the written word is valued enough to be pirated, is that worth a world where the "book" is a rarity?
Probably just all conjecture, since people who like books like books, period, and books aren’t records. But still, the codger in me wants to make sure my lawn remains damned-kids-free indefinitely.