Future of the Book

March 13, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 11
Will print survive the e-onslaught?
By Heather Kerrigan


As technology has evolved, so too has the nature of the book. For centuries, the printed volume reigned, but it is increasingly facing challenges from other formats. Industry data indicate that audiobooks and e-books constitute a growing segment of book purchases, forcing authors, retailers and publishers to rethink how they package content. However, it might be the unreported data that show where books are headed: A growing number of smartphone apps are hitting the market, delivering unique content, serialized publications and immersive multimedia experiences, and their readership is often not captured in sales figures. Libraries and independent booksellers are working to stay ahead of potential market shifts, reinventing themselves as community destinations that provide educational and social activities as well as books. In contrast, the Big Five publishing houses — Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette and Penguin Random House — have largely tried to maintain the status quo, leaving innovation to individual authors, technology companies and even game developers.

The competition between traditional books and e-books (Getty Images/Jeff J. Mitchell)
The competition between traditional books and e-books for readers' attention can generate strong feelings. Scottish bookstore owner Shaun Bythell expressed his by destroying an Amazon Kindle e-reader with a shotgun and mounting it on a plaque in his shop in 2017. (Getty Images/Jeff J. Mitchell)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Publishing Industry
Mar. 13, 2020  Future of the Book
Dec. 14, 2018  Local News Under Stress
May 29, 2009  Future of Books Updated
Jun. 23, 2000  The Future of Books
Jun. 28, 1985  The Book Business
May 09, 1975  Book Publishing
Arts and Humanities
Blind and Visually Impaired
Consumer Behavior
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Libraries and Educational Media
Print Media