Guest Columnist: Will You Recognize the Industry in 10 Years?
There is no doubt that the industry is in a period of significant transition. What can we expect 10 to 15 years from now?
Someday, all data and applications will be “in the cloud”—that is, existing independently from, but accessible by, digital devices. All the devices most used every day will then need almost no memory. When we say “screens” in that context, it will mean the same thing as saying “devices” or “computers.” The screens of the future will all connect to all the information and all the computing power all the time.
So, media consumption will take place by people choosing from a wide variety of screen configurations, the way they have always chosen from a wide variety of printed formats. That is, you’ll pick up one kind of screen/device to read a memo you’re working on, another one to look at the work of your favorite photographer, and pull a rolled-up one out of your back pocket to read a book or newspaper on the subway or at the beach. And those don’t include the ones on your walls for a movie, or for a piece of art.
Books don’t have to immediately disappear from a world like that. Print-on-demand (POD) technology means that anybody can have anything they want in book form, down to a press run of one. David Worlock of Outsell, the sagest digital (and longest-standing) guru I know, once told me, “Surely, in time, the number of books created within the network (by individuals via the Internet) must exceed the number of books created outside the network.” If you look at what SharedBook is doing now—enabling personalized books to be created and displayed as flipbooks online, downloaded as PDFs, or printed on-demand—you see the down payment on Worlock’s vision.