Just a couple days ago I wrote about an article wondering if the iPad had “preemptively killed the US tablet market”. It would seem at least one person believes the answer is no, because CNet is running a brief piece by Brooke Crothers predicting that a lot of media pads are on the way, and listing some of the features they might have.
What I take from all this is that prognostication is really anybody’s guess.
And speaking of prognostication, fresh from offering his $100 tablet expertise to the makers of India’s announced $35 tablet, Nicholas Negroponte has confidently predicted the death of the paper book within five years.
“People will say ‘no, no, no’ — of course you like your libraries,” Negroponte said. But he cited the report that sales of books for the Kindle recently surpassed sales of hardcover books.
Oh, well, if he says it, then it must be true.
TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey takes a fairly lengthy look at the tendency toward making predictions of the death of the paper book that has been growing lately (is it something in the water?) and notes that printed matter does have a lot of inertia on its side, even as e-books have some other advantages. And he is not immune to making a prognostication of his own:
I say that books are going to continue to decline in circulation as e-readers get better and cheaper ($140 is still a lot), and as the smoke-filled room occupied by the big players clears a bit. I predict a flip-flop, though: when cheap e-readers become common possessions, books will cease to be inferior alternatives and start being luxury items. The quality of paperbacks and such today really is awful: pulp paper, blurry type, flimsy covers — it’ll be no mystery when Jane Six-Pack opts for a slick, light e-reader a couple models down the line. The low-quality book market being usurped by e-readers, dead-tree-based publishers will have to change their tack, and obviously economy and convenience will no longer be a feature of their product.
It seems to be fashionable to predict the death of the e-book, but I’m suddenly reminded of the segment concerning the computer Deep Thought from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the philosphers Majikthise and Vroomfondel who make a fortune in the prognostication business based on the seven and a half million years required for its solution.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait quite that long to know what’s going to happen to paper books.