The future of reading

I've heard a lot of talk about The Future of the Book lately, and lots of nonsense about Are Ebooks Going To Kill Reading. I read paper books and eBooks (on my iPhone, but am hankering for an iPad). Both have advantages. I can read a paper book in the bath without worry. It won't ever run out of battery. I don't have to worry about format or DRM etc. But on an eBook, I can highlight and annotate, and search my annotations. I can tap on a word or phrase or name and look it up in the dictionary or Wikipedia. I can carry thousands of books all at once. I can read without a light source. I'm using less trees*.

It's easier to pirate an eBook than a physical one - this is good for (some) consumers, bad for producers. I'm both, so it probably evens out. But - and this is, for me, the biggest black mark against the eBook's name - I can't lend an eBook. I can't say "this is great, you'll love it", and press it into someone's hands. This is a great shame.

Either way, I hardly think it's going to spell The End of Reading. Reading (or some aspects of reading) will change - but is that necessarily a bad thing? Surely there are exciting new possibilities out there - as exciting as the development of movable type, lithography, the paperback or desktop publishing.

It could be amazing:

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.


*A young man on the Colbert Report the other night said he'd massively reduced his carbon footprint by reading newspapers, magazines and books on an iPad.